The mind of a kicker

CLEMSON - The mind of a kicker can be a fickle place.

Richard Jackson knows about it just as well as anyone that's taken the three steps back and two steps over before the snap, place and hold. Jackson spent three of the quarters in Clemson's 40-24 win over Florida State battling himself in trying to figure out the fourth part of the field goal sequence- the kick.

Coming into the game, he was one of the most efficient kickers in the country.

In fact, he's tied for fourth in the country with two others for field goals per game (1.89). After missing the extra-point attempt following the first touchdown on Saturday, Jackson started "fighting the stroke a little bit."

The mental struggle forced another missed another extra-point and two missed field goals.

"I was kind of fighting all through the game and that's exactly what you don't want to be doing," he said.

It's preferable to struggle during the week, not on game days.

"If you're fighting it during the game, that's not what you're looking for," he said.

Special teams coach Andre Powell believes the snaps and protections were good on all of the attempts. He compared it to a hobby that's a lot more relaxing than watching a kicker trying not to miss a field goal, instead of trying to make it.

"It's like you go fishing one day and they don't bite. They didn't bite on Saturday," he said.

Powell encourages any kicker to forget about the misses and look ahead to future makes.

Plus, he's not discounting Jackson's makes from earlier this season.

"Without him, we may not beat Boston College. Without him, we don't beat Miami," Powell said.

Coupled with Spencer Benton's missed extra-point attempt on Saturday, Coach Dabo Swinney opened the place kicking duties back up during practice this week.

Benton said his miss was attributed to leaving his hips open, forcing him to push the kick right of the uprights.

"I knew exactly what I did, when I did it. The outcome was a miss. There's no excuse for a missed extra-point," he said.

Powell said the competition will continue during this week's practice like it has for the majority of the season.

"It's like our right tackle--they compete everyday. It's like (Mason) Cloy, he competes everyday," he said. "We've got a few guys who have a position nailed down…some positions compete everyday."

Benton believes the ongoing competition throughout the season has made both he and Jackson better. During the first few days of practice on any given week, the two would split repetitions. On Thursdays, Jackson has gotten all team reps.

"I'm always pushing him--he's pushing me. We're always trying to get consistent. That's the main goal for a kicker," Benton said.

Swinney wants the kickers to remember what's gotten them to this point, to remember how they've attained success.

"We know Richard Jackson and Spencer Benton are pretty good kickers. They can boom the ball. It's just mental," he said. "We've got to get the back focused on the right things--the routine…they'll be alright."


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