Sorting out the kicking duties

To start the season, Riley Stephenson was responsible for punting, kickoff and field goal duties. Then there was a period of time when field goal kicking seemed to be by committee. During the Notre Dame game, Justin Sorensen was given the full responsibility of kicking field goals.

So why the interchanging of kickers?

"Riley is our punter and he was doing some kicking earlier this season because of Justin's back [injury]," said Coach Tidwell. "Riley is doing a great job with the punting, so we just want him to focus on just doing that. He's doing a great job of putting the ball where we want it. He has good hang time and we're pleased with what he's done.

"Justin had his back operated on in the offseason and wasn't at full strength, so early in the season Riley was doing some of the kicking duties. As Justin's back became stronger, he got more and more of the kicking reps. Then eventually Justin took over for the kicking duties."

Despite Sorensen not being healthy to start the season, the coaches still felt it would be best to not redshirt him.

"We didn't want Riley to have to do everything," Tidwell said. "It gets sore on the leg with all the duties, and the pressure to do both can be a little much. Riley is, I think, in the top 15 in the nation in punting. So, we just want him to just focus on that."

Against Notre Dame, Sorensen missed a crucial field goal that ended up being the difference in the game.

"We just have to get Justin more consistent in kicking more field goals and get his confidence back," Coach Tidwell said. "We're getting him more and more reps in practice. His back is fine and his leg is strong. It was just a game situation with the crowd and pressure and all that stuff. He just has to get it through the uprights."

As Sorensen gets more reps, the coaches have simulated actual game scenarios by having the field goal team go up against a full rush.

"Guys are holding bags up so he has to kick over the top of them," Tidwell said about Sorensen. "So, he's getting a lot more timing with the snap and the holder with a rush, so, yeah, he's getting a lot more reps in practice. We just need to get him back up to kicking speed and I think we will. We'll get it figured out."

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