Is Placekicking Going to Be a Problem?

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Most of the time we don’t even consider the kickers when talking about the upcoming season. We just assume they will do their job…kick and punt, not that hard. But if it’s done badly, the kicking game can really hurt you.

Junior Baker Swedenberg returns as punter after a decent 41.8 yard average in 2011. But placekicker is up in the air. Derek Depasquale has graduated after a solid career – the 2nd most accurate field goal kicker in MSU history (76.2%).

Junior Brian Egan handled most of the kickoff duties last year and came out of spring practice as the man to beat for field goal duty. But his name is no where to be found on the 105 man roster that was released this past weekend.

So, what is left? The most obvious choice would be true freshman Devon Bell out of Vicksburg. Bell has a big leg and was expected by most to handle the kickoff duties this year anyway. He has the ability to handle kickoffs, punts and field goals, so he is a pretty talented kicker. But will he be able to kick field goals as a true freshman in the pressure packed SEC?

There are other options, but I’m not so sure how good they are. Redshirt freshman Kyle Williams and freshman Evan Sobiesk are listed on the roster – I have no idea of their kicking prowess. But given that Bell was offered a scholarship as a freshman, especially with the 25 man limit, I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say he’s a good bit better than those two. I’m not sure if Swedenberg or true freshman punter Mike Mordecai are available to placekick.

I’m sure that whoever ends up kicking field goals will be able to make them under 35 yards, at least I hope. But will Mullen be hesitant to attempt a field goal in the 35-50 yard range?

There’s an option, bulldoze the opposition with the 330 pound behemoth.

This will be interesting going into the season. In some scenarios it might be a good thing if State goes for it on 4th & 3 at the 25 and the drive ends up in 7 points instead of 3. But on the other hand a sure field goal could end up a turnover on downs.

While we don’t like to admit it, a good field goal kicker is important to have. Within three points late in the game you definitely want to kick a 40 yarder instead of going for it on 4th & 9. We’ll see who steps up in 2012.