The Numbers Don't Lie

CLEMSON – Mark Buchholz will be the first one to tell you that every field goal kick attempted should be made. But the truth of the matter is they're not. The short ones are periodically missed and long attempts are missed with regularity, regardless of who is doing the kicking.

Buchholz, a redshirt junior, is in the midst of being a field goal kicker on the Clemson football team for the first time since he was an All-State selection during high school in Georgia. He entered the season with great expectations from himself, coaches, fans and media.

But over the last two games, he's had a problem sending the ball through the uprights. During that span, he's missed six field goals in 11 attempts.

Many suggest it's because he's starter on the Tigers' soccer team and hasn't had a day off between the two sports since August. They assume he's exhausted and can't handle the duel duties.

"Me playing soccer isn't the reason I missed those field goals," said Buchholz, who scoffs at the very notion. "I'm not tired or physically worn down. I was just a little off. That's all."

But has he really fallen on hard times? A closer look into the number might suggest otherwise.

On the season, Buchholz is 7-of-13 on the season and his four missed field goals against Georgia Tech week started the conversations about his physical state.

But of those six misses, four have come from 47, 48, 50 and 52 yards. It's not like those were chippies.

However, Buchholz has also already made kicks from 46 and 48 yards, which means between 45-49 yards, he's 2-for-5 and 0-for-2 from 50-plus.

And believe it or not, those numbers aren't all that different from those making tons of money kicking in the NFL.

One has to look no further than to Oakland Raiders kicker and former Pro Bowler Sebastian Janikowski, who is 1-for-2 between 40-49 yards and 0-for-3 from beyond 50 in four games this season.

Denver Broncos kicker, pro bowler and likely Hall of Fame kicker Jason Elam is 2-for-4 from 40-49 yards and 0-for-1 from beyond 50.

All told, 27 NFL kickers have attempted at least one field goal between 40-49 yards through the first four games and 10 of them have made 50 percent or less.

In Week 2, kickers in the NFL were just 5-of-9 in kicks between 45-49 yards.

Moreover, professional kickers have made just 35 percent of their kicks from 50-yards and beyond by going 7-for-20 on the season.

It's completely unfair and ridiculous to expect a college kid to meet those same numbers or even exceed them.

However, Buchholz says it doesn't matter that a Clemson kicker hasn't made a 50-yard field goal since 1997, because fans expect him to make every kick, no matter the distance.

"Yeah, but fans don't look at the distances or what the NFL kickers are doing," Buchholz said. "All these see are the headlines that I missed four field goals and that we lost by 10. They say that if I would have made them all we would have won. That's all they look at."

Buchholz is more disappointed that he missed those kicks than anyone. He truly thinks he should make every single attempt up to 55 yards. But it's just not realistic, even for the shorter ones.

Buchholz is 5-of-7 from 0-39 yards and the two misses were pushed wide right. But he can take solace in the fact that NFL kickers have missed 13 kicks of their own from that same distance.

"I definitely should have made those," he said. "And it has absolutely nothing to do with my playing soccer. I just missed them even though I shouldn't have. I'm doing everything I can to make sure that doesn't happen again."

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