Scrimmage Kicking Gets Mixed Reviews

Almost any golfer has experienced the frustration of having a nice warm-up on the practice range and putting green, then failing to take that game to the first tee. Thus it seems to be for a couple of freshmen punters at Alabama.

Alabama had barely finished its scrimmage Saturday when the word came. Reporters, who are not allowed to watch the scrimmage and were waiting to hear about it from Coach Nick Saban, began receiving texts from those among the observers. "Bad day punting" was a common theme.

Most of the pre-season analysis of Alabama football has focused on the Crimson Tide returning most of its offense and having to rebuild its defense.

Almost as an afterthought: Alabama lost all of its specialists – punter P.J. Fitzgerald, placekicker (for extra points, field goals and kickoffs) Leigh Tiffin, snapper Brian Selman, and return star Javier Arenas.

The Crimson Tide has competition for both punter and placekicker in fall camp. The punter candidates are scholarshipped freshman Jay Williams of Thomasville and walk-on freshman Cody Mandell of Lafayette, Louisiana. The placekicker candidates are scholarshipped freshman Cade Foster of Southlake, Texas, and sophomore walk-on Jeremy Shelley of Raleigh, North Carolina, are the placekicker candidates in Fall camp.

(In the spring, senior walk-on placekicker Colin Gallagher and freshman walk-on punter Zach Goehler were prominent and may be a part of the competition once the squad is expanded when classes begin at The University Wednesday.)

Following Saturday's scrimmage, Saban said, "We had five or six live opportunities with each punter. Each had two or three good ones and each one had two or three that could have been getter. If you saw them in specialty, you'd say, ‘Wow, where'd you get those guys,' but they've got to learn to take that to the game, they've got to take that where there are live bullets, guys rushing at them, and have the same rhythm. It's a matter of experience for them, confidence and trust in the people blocking for them, and what they need to do to be consistent performers. Both guys have talent.

"I don't know what we did on field goals, but we missed one long one, 52 or 53 yards, just missed, plenty long. We did a good job kicking off. (Jeremy) Shelly made two and missed two. He's been really most consistent from 25 yard in. I think he's missed only one in camp. Cade (Foster) has a really strong leg; just has to get a little more consistency on his accuracy. Both guys have talent. But they have to be able to take it to the game with consistency and confidence and that's what we're trying to develop situationally as we go through camp."

Total college game experience among the two placekickers is that Shelley went in late in last year's game against Chattanooga and missed a field goal, made an extra point.

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