Last night I reported that Kentucky accepted a verbal commitment from Alabama kicker Austin MacGinnis. It seems that many fans are upset with the decision to add another scholarship kicker during a year when UK has a limited number of rides to offer. UK is in with a LOT of big name prospects this year and it could be a shame if they are unable to sign a great playmaker because they took a specialist.
But as a former football player, I want to stress the importance of a good kicker. As one of the guys who gets beaten and bruised, sweats and bleeds to get into field goal range or keep the game close enough that a field goal matters, it is a back-breaker to see one missed. Joe Mansour has a big leg. He will be booming kickoffs for the next 2 years. But he struggles with accuracy. You are going to win more games with a guy who is accurate within 40 yards than a guy who can boom it unpredictably.
This move tells me that the coaches aren’t 100% sold on Mansour as a place kicker for 2013. Hopefully he takes the job and runs with it, allowing MacGinnis to redshirt and start the next year. If not, the coaches have a back-up plan. Have folks already forgotten how they took Joker to task about not having any good punters this Spring? Both positions are vital to a team trying improve their position in the SEC. A young team is going to have ups and downs, 3 points can make a huge difference, as can a long field for the opponent. In this spirit I present to you the ballad of Lones Sieber:
2006 VS Tennessee – Seiber misses from 30 yards in the first half and a PAT. At the end of the game with UK trailed 17-12, instead of 17-16 and had to go for a touchdown instead of a field goal to win. They lost.
2007 VS. UT – In double overtime, Seiber lines up for the game-winning field goal. He kicks a line drive which is blocked by the Vols. Kentucky loses in the third overtime.
2008 VS South Carolina – Kentucky loses by 7 to the Gamecocks, in part due to another blocked Sieber field goal that is returned for a touchdown. A 10-point swing in a close game that could have ended the Spurrier streak.
Those 3 games are only examples of games Kentucky lost directly due to missed field goal opportunities. Several other games were kept unnecessarily close by Seiber misses, including the near disaster versus Middle Tennessee and the bowl win over ECU. As a fan it was always time to hold ones breath when Rich Brooks trotted Seiber out onto the field. This is not an attempt to bash Lones, he was phenomenal in the upset win over LSU, but he simply wasn’t a very accurate kicker. The steadiness of McIntosh has been a relief and if MacGinnis is as accurate as advertised I look forward to his time as the starting kicker for Kentucky.