Leigh Tiffin Doing What It Takes

In 2008, Alabama placekicker Leigh Tiffin was in on six tackles as a weakness of the Crimson Tide was kickoff coverage. Tiffin took part of the blame for the problem. He has taken steps to alleviate them this year.

One thing Leigh Tiffin has figured out is that it wouldn't hurt him to be a little bigger and stronger. To that end, Tiffin has added about 13 pounds since last spring, up from 199 to 212.

In practice, when Alabama defenders have tackling drills, Tiffin doesn't just stand and watch. "I've taken part in tackling drills just in case," he said. "Hopefully, I won't have to use those skills."

Tiffin's best strategy to avoid being the tackler on kickoff coverage is the one he has worked hardest on. "I'm trying to get more distance for touchbacks and better hang time," he said. "That's what I needed to improve on the most."

Tiffinm a senior from Muscle Shoals, is pre-season All-Southeastern Conference and is on the Lou Groza Award watch list. The Groza Award goes to the nation's top placekicker.

"That's a great honor and it's exciting," Tiffin said. "But it doesn't mean a lot until the season is over."

Although Tiffin said kickoffs had been his primary focus in off-season work, he said he is also working to increase his field goal accuracy. "Consistency in field goals should occur naturally over time," he said. "You do it and you get better at it."

Last year Tiffin was 20-29 on field goals with a long of 54 yards. He was 2-3 on field goals of 50 yards or longer. He also made 46 of 47 extra point kicks. He was second in the SEC in field goals per game at 1.443.

The Academic All-SEC selection has a chance to break several school records in 2009. He is fifth in Alabama's career scoring with 253 points, needing 93 to break Phillip Doyle's record. Tiffin has eclipse that mark each of the past two years with a school record 111 kicking points in 2007 and the second most in school history, 106, last season. He is 94-96 on career PAT kicks and 53-76 on field goals with three of 50 yards or more.

He said he sees his senior season as "most important, the last chance." He said it's also his last opportunity to out-do his famous father, Van Tiffin, Bama's outstanding placekicker from the mid-1980s.

Leigh said he probably remembers his missed kicks more than his successful kicks. "You don't remember the mades because that's what's supposed to happen," he said. "I probably worry too much about the ones I've missed, but those tend to stay in your mind. You keep going over what you did wrong."

Earlier this fall, Alabama Coach Nick Saban referred to the placekickers as "assassins," meaning they have one shot to do their jobs. Tiffin said, "He's told me that before. He wants that to be my mindset. I think he's right."

Tiffin said it helps that he will have the same snapper (Brian Selman) and same holder (P.J. Fitzgerald) for the third consecutive year. "We know each other and we have a good routine," Tiffin said. "It helps a lot. Brian is a really smart guy and has gotten a whole lot better every year. He's an excellent snapper and the leader of our little group."

Tiffin is also considered the back-up punter, at least until another one or two make it into camp with the start of classes next Wednesday. "I used to practice that more," he said. "Now I don't punt as much. I'm saving my leg for working on what I do. I'm a punter for emergency purposes only."

Speaking of punting, he said Fitzgerald appears to have improved a great deal over the summer. He said Fitzgerald worked with some other punters. "He really has improved," Tiffin said.

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