Matt Leach - Sonic Boom

Sure, the F-18 fighter jets that flew over Gator football practice at the Sander's Facility on Thursday afternoon, did, indeed, make a very loud noise…referred to as a ‘sonic boom'. For Gator Senior Kicker <B>Matt Leach</B>, you could say that he kicks the football with all of the intensity that you hear when there's a ‘sonic boom'.

If you didn't know, the meaning of a ‘sonic boom', from Webster's Dictionary, is a sound resembling an explosion produced when a shock wave formed at the nose of an aircraft traveling at supersonic speed reaches the ground.

So, boom, boom, boom! Go ahead Matt, crank-out those booming kicks. "I'm hitting the ball real good, striking it well. The new holder is working out real good --- Jeff Whitaker is holding," said Leach. "And, obviously, with Casey Griffith snapping it, we're just doing real well."

As a 2003 Lou Groza "The Toe" Award Semi-finalist, Leach knows his role is extremely important in helping his team win games. And, UF Head Coach Ron Zook knows that.

"I pay a lot of attention to Matt Leach --- he's a great kicker. He's done a great job. I'm really proud of him. Our first year here, he struggled for a lot of reasons. I'm just proud of the way he's come on and done the things (that he needed to do). Matt's ‘money'! He's a great guy and is doing a great job," said Coach Zook.

You can see Leach's ‘will to win' just by watching him kick during spring practice. Like practicing hitting a golf ball on a driving range, practicing kicking a football is similar, in that, you cannot rush things. You have to take some time between hitting a golf ball and take some time between kicking a football.

"I try to control how many kicks I hit each day. We're only practicing two or three times a week, so, I really don't worry about over-kicking," said Leach, adding that, "I really just go at my own pace, and, try not kick too many. I just kick until I feel good. When I'm warm, we kick with the team."

With only half of a practice field to work with during the spring, Leach, not only kicks from the hash marks, but, he also kicks from the sideline. "I do that because it makes you more accurate. If you can hit it with the goal post six-feet wide (from the sideline angle), you can hit it (from the hash marks)."

During his three seasons as a Gator, Leach has played in 36 games and the Orange Bowl --- 171 plays as a kicker and a punter. Career-wise, he's 71-of-76 (.934) on extra points, and, 30-of-42 on field goals (.714).

One tough thing about kickers is that they have only one chance to make it or break it, especially, when the game's on the line --- you make the kick, you're a hero; you miss the kick, you're a goat.

My Matt Leach highlight was last season when he kicked a 33-yard field goal against rival Georgia with 33 seconds left in the game. That ‘sonic boom' won it for the Gators. And, Leach got to go home a hero.


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