Flashback, December 2014. Boston College is in the Pinstripe Bowl and has just scored the potential go ahead touchdown in overtime on a beautiful pitch and catch from Tyler Murphy to David Dudeck. Place kicker Mike Knoll comes in for the XP, and his kick isn’t even close, missing by what seems like 10 yards.
It was a disappointing end to a disappointing year for Boston College kickers. All in all the team missed a whopping 8 extra points between Knoll, Alex Howell and Joey Launceford. Unfortunately for Knoll he became the poster boy for those struggles. For many, he became the personification on why BC lost that game. It was so much easier to blame a missed kick than look at the defense, or the conservative offensive play calling. It all fell on the lonesome kicker.
2015 seemed like a giant void for everyone involved with the football program. BC scored so infrequently, that the work of the place kicker hardly mattered. Knoll did play, kicking 8 extra points, and shared duties with Alex Howell. He did make one bigger kick, sealing the win against Northern Illinois, but for the most part it was a year in obscurity for Knoll and the rest of the BC kickers.
Enter 2016. The offense gave him the chance to make some kicks this year and for the most part he did. He went 12 of 14 on field goals, which gave Boston College a relative consistency at kicker that they haven’t had in years. And up until the bowl game, he had only missed one extra point, which I believe was blocked against UMass (unfortunately the link to the game notes is broken on BCEagles.com). He did however have two misses in the bowl game, but remember one of those was blocked as well.
While we still instinctually held our breath everytime the kicking team came on the field, Knoll showed improvement all year. He had three field goals against UConn, two against UMass, two against NC State, two against Syracuse. When BC’s offense was moving the ball, he became more of a weapon than a hinderance. He did all of this while punting for Boston College as well, averaging about 38 yards a punt. Was he perfect? Absolutely not. But he has given some stability to a much maligned position and I believe that kicker/punter Mike Knoll was Boston College’s Most Improved Male Athlete in 2016.