Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

So.....Field Goal Kicking Has Been a Bit of a Problem

Devon Bell has obviously had issues kicking field goals this year. He’s got a booming leg which has been tremendous on kickoffs, but in the mental game that is getting the ball to go through the uprights, he simply hasn’t gotten it done.

As a team, MSU is 111th in the country at 50%. Percentage-wise Devon Bell is 134th in the country (45.5%). He is 5 of 11, missing one kick per game in every game except Alcorn State (1 for 1). Evan Sobiesk attempted the only other field goal – a chip shot that was good.

Three points can be a pretty big deal.

  • Missed FG vs. Auburn in the first half. That plus failed two point conversion instead of kicking the extra point was the different in the game (4 points)
  • Missed FG vs. LSU late in the 3rd quarter when the game was 31-26, game fell apart after that
  • Late in the 4th quarter MSU goes for it on 4th down instead of attempting a 25 yard field goal that would have forced Bowling Green to score a touchdown to win
  • Late in the 4th quarter against Kentucky MSU goes for it on 4th down instead of attempting a 50 yard field goal which would have put the game out of reach (9-point lead)

As big as those situations were, State hasn’t really been faced with a critical situation where a field goal was absolutely necessary. What will we do if/when that happens?

Bell is 1 of 4 from 30-39 yards and 1 of 4 from 40-49. That’s 2 of 8 from medium to long distance. Essentially MSU cannot attempt a field goal unless they are inside the 15 yard line.

There’s no question Devon Bell has the leg. I haven’t talked to him about it, but I don’t think I’m going to far out on a limb to suggest it’s in his head. Mullen told reporters Bell was 27 of 28 in practice field goals during Kentucky week, but he badly missed his only attempt.

Strangely enough Bell was given more duties vs. UK as he punted three times. One of them was out of our own endzone, which he proceed to drop a perfect snap resulting in a safety. MSU’s regular punter, Baker Swedenburg, is a Ray Guy Award nominee so this was a head-scratcher. I have to wonder if Bell even wants to kick field goals. I’ve heard him talk about punting on multiple occasions and I think he believes that is his best skill.  Is his heart in FG kicking? Is his lack of confidence a result of not wanting those duties? I’m speculating here, but it may be true.

At any rate, it looks like MSU is going to be going for it on 4th down from the 15-35 yard line, or at least they should be. Against South Carolina we really can’t afford to miss opportunities to get points when we’re in the red zone or close to it. Hopefully Bell will snap out of it and go on a tear like he did last year after a few poor games, we’ll see.


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Tags: Mississippi State Football

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