Brian: At the start of the season, four ACC kickers were named to the 2011 Lou Groza Award preseason watch list, given to the nation's best kicker. This season hasn't exactly gone to plan for three of those kickers.
North Carolina's Casey Barth is just 1/1 on the year, hitting a 46 yard field goal in the Heels win over Rutgers. Barth has since been shelved with a thigh injury. The Heels have made two other field goals all season in losses to Miami and Clemson.
Duke's Will Snyderwine, arguably the ACC's best returning kicker this season, is just 7-16 on field goal attempts this season and dead last in the ACC in FG made percentage. Snyderwine has gone 0-2 in FG attempts against Richmond, Stanford and last weekend at Virginia. Snyderwine also turned in a miserable 1-4 performance in a 14-10 home loss to Virginia Tech where Duke obviously could have used the points.
The only kicker who has lived up to the preseason hype is Florida State's Dustin Hopkins, who has made 18-21 FGs this season for a 85.7 make percentage, the best in the conference.
Then we come to Boston College's Nate Freese, who has made just 9 of 15 field goals this season, a year removed from connecting on 22-25. Freese is 8-12 on field goals at home and just 1-3 on the road. He also had costly misses in the Duke and Northwestern games. Freese hasn't connected on a field goal since going 4-4 in the Wake game, a span of five games. In that time frame, Freese has gone 0-3, though the misses -- two in the Maryland game and one last Saturday against N.C. State -- have not hurt the Eagles.
What is up with Freese this year? Can he turn things around in the final two games of the season, or will the Eagles turn to someone else like recruit Alex Howell to take over the field goal duties next season?
Jeff: It has been a rough year for Freese, which wasn't all that expected. We had a lot of questions going into the season but we thought we would be strong at place kicker since Freese had been very good last season and was named on the Lou Groza Award watch list.
Nate has shown last season, and at times this season that he can be a good kicker. Getting off to a rough start this season is something he has not been able to get over. Kickers, baseball pitchers and a lot of other athletes need to have a bit of selective amnesia. Freese clearly has not developed that yet but he needs to. The Maryland game where he missed 2 field goals was hardly his fault. The weather was the primary issue and the second one never should have been attempted. But Freese needs to forget about the Duke and Northwestern games so that he can go back to making the attempts he should. In his defense, it would be a lot easier to put them behind him if he had more attempts of both field goals and XPs.
I expect Nate Freese to be the kicker next year. With the offense moving the ball better than this season, he should be able to have the same or fewer misses with a lot more makes.