Two Kickers, No Guarantees

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas kicker Jeremy Davis admits he has spent the last few days imagining what it would be like to make the game-winning field goal.

He has envisioned lining up for the kick, watching as the football sails through the uprights and then enjoying the rush of emotions that would surely come with winning the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. Of course, if Davis wants to know what it's like to make a game-winner, he should just ask his younger brother, Josh. On Saturday, Davis watched as his brother made three field goals for Fort Smith Southside in the Class 7A championship game, the last kick being a 34-yarder with four seconds left to lift the Rebels to a 23-22 victory over Rogers. "I told him just to stay calm," Davis said. "Shoot, he stayed calm and made everything. That's the way I hope I do (Saturday)." That's what Arkansas coach Houston Nutt hopes, as well. But if the SEC Championship Game should come down to a last-second field goal, neither Nutt nor Florida coach Urban Meyer knows exactly what to expect. Both No. 4 Florida and No. 8 Arkansas have experienced their share of kicking woes this season. And if last week was any indication, there could be plenty of suspense Saturday night in the Georgia Dome whenever one of the teams attepts a kick. Davis missed his first extra-point attempt in a 31-26 loss to No. 5 LSU, causing the Razorbacks (10-2, 7-1 SEC) to attempt a two-point conversion following their next touchdown. It failed. And while Davis made his final two extra-point attempts, Nutt admitted that the first missed kick threw the team out of rhythm. "When you don't get seven (points), it's just a bad feeling. Now, you've got to go for it (on a two-point conversion)," Nutt said. "... It just throws everything off just a little bit." Coincidentally, Davis' miss came in Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium, the same place where his brother made his game-winning field goal the next day. Both kicks also came on the south end of the field. "The next kick is the most important one, so I've already forgotten about that kick and it's in the past," Davis said. Florida kicker Chris Hetland, meanwhile, added to his season-long struggles by missing a pair of field goals in the first half of a 21-14 win at Florida State. The senior hooked his first attempt from 38 yards wide right and then missed his next attempt from 35 yards wide left. "If all of a sudden you get those two field goals — and they were not long field goals — you're up by two (or) three scores," Meyer said. "It's 20-0 instead of 14-0, that's a big difference." Hetland's struggles this season have been hard to explain. An All-SEC selection last year, Hetland has made only 3 of 12 field-goal attempts this season, including missing all six tries from 30 to 39 yards. As a result, the senior has had to compete every week in practice to retain his starting job. Meyer said he'll take the same approach this week, as well. Despite the struggles, Meyer said he wouldn't have a problem with sending out Hetland for a last-second field-goal attempt in the SEC Championship Game — should it come down to that. "I think we have a very capable kicker in Chris Hetland. He's not hit them recently and has really struggled most of the year," Meyer said. "But I have confidence if I put him out there, he's going to hit it." Nutt has faith in his kicker, as well. He stressed earlier this week that Davis would get the nod for Saturday's game, despite the fact that the sophomore has made only 6 of 11 field-goal attempts since replacing fellow sophomore Stephen Arnold after the second game of the season. "He's our guy. He'll make them," Nutt said of Davis. "I've got confidence that he'll make them." One advantage going for both kickers is that at least they don't need to worry about the wind affecting their kicks. After all, the SEC Championship Game is played in a dome, which makes for controlled conditions. "I've kicked on AstroTurf, but I've never kicked in a dome," Davis. "I'm kind of looking forward to it. No wind."

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