Weber Aims to Kick Inconsistency to the Curb

Roller coaster performances are often the norm with kickers, and Thomas Weber is a prime example. A strong start in the spring, was negated by a below average performance the rest of the way. In the fall, he had a shaky start, but in the last few practices his accuracy and leg strength have been impressive. So was it a technical or mental hump that Weber had to overcome?

"The first two days – I don't know what it was," said Thomas Weber who transferred from Michigan State. "I was a little off. It was probably partially technique and partially mental. But these past couple of days I've been getting more comfortable and started kicking like I know I can and hitting the ball pretty well."

The redshirt freshman's leg strength has been hard to ignore in practices. Nonetheless, he tends to be generally modest when talking about his comfortable range for field goals. "I see myself as a 40-yard plus yard kicker," Weber commented. "I did well in the spring with the 50-yard plus. Coach Erickson just wants me to focus on being completely automatic from 40-yard and around that area. You won't get that many chances to kick from 50-yards in games anyway."

A new NCAA rule has pushed kickoffs back to the 30-yard line while still kicking from an NFL-size a one-inch tee. Naturally, this is not something a kicker would particularly embrace but Weber is the exception. "I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I always do well with my hang time and distance, so it should be exciting for me. I love kickoffs and I'm hoping to get a good amount of touchbacks. And if it doesn't go in the end zone my hang time should help us cover the kick."

"I don't think the new rule will mean less touchbacks. It will be a change because last year from the 35-yard line, kickers were just driving it. If you do that this year, the returner will have like 30, 35 yards to run it out." Weber added that he hasn't worked on tackling yet, in anticipation for more kickoff return opportunities by the opposition.

During his redshirt year, and even during the off-season, Weber was under the tutelage of departing senior and now Cleveland Browns kicker Jesse Ainsworth. "Jesse is a big influence on me and we both worked out with the same kicking coach," said Weber. "Watching him going through good situations, and bad situations and how he dealt with them…I got a lot of knowledge of the game from him."

The snapper and the holder are just as essential as the kicker himself, when it comes to successfully executing a field goal. Ever since spring, Weber has been working on a unit which includes long snapper Jason Perkins and punter Jonathan Johnson who acts as the holder. "We have some work to do, but everything has been going real smooth so far," Weber commented. "They both worked real hard on it in the summer."

Weber also praises the senior Johnson for his leadership and mentoring. "If I get rattled, like I was the first few days of practice, he was on me telling me ‘forget about it…just focus on kicking the ball through.' It really helps having him give me advice."

The last time Weber was part of a game situation, he was in his senior year at Loyola High School in Downey, Calif. When he arrived at Michigan State, Weber was deceived when he joined the Spartans. He was told while being recruited that he was going to be the starting kicker. Yet when he arrived at school, he noticed that another freshman was also brought in for a position battle.

Thus, it's been a while since Weber has kicked competitively. He welcomes any simulation of a game during practice, even if it's just the ever popular ‘make the filed goal and practice ends early' drill. "It does help," he admitted. "When Coach threw me in the two-minute drill that helped, because he didn't tell me ahead of time that I was gonna kick in that drill. If it's unexpected that's like a game situation."

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