It appears that the Hoosiers have finally found their kicker in the form of redshirt freshman Griffin Oakes, who hit three field goals on the day, including an Indiana record 58-yard kick to close out the first half. The kick broke Scott Bonnell’s previous mark of 55 yards at Michigan on Oct. 28, 1989.
“It’s a good feeling to go out there and try to perform,” Oakes said after the game. “It was good to finally be out there and show what I can do.
“It was a great snap, great hold, and great protection and all I had to do was just kick it.”
Griffin finished the day 3-for-4 on field goal attempts, hitting from 38 and 48 on his first two kicks, while his lone miss was from 52 yards out.
The kicking game was an issue in non-conference play this season. Redshirt freshman Aaron Del Grosso won the position battle out of fall camp, but after going 1-for-4 through the first three games of the season, head coach Kevin Wilson gave Oakes his chance on Saturday.
The move paid off, and while it appears for now that it’s Oakes' job, he knows that competition doesn’t allow for guarantees, especially at this level of college football.
“I don’t feel like anything is set in stone, especially where I’m at now,” Oakes said. “I’ve done nothing to prove myself, I had one good game. It shouldn’t mean anything is cemented at all. I need to come out next week in practice and show I can do it again.”
One thing Oakes has plenty of is confidence, which is something that had yet to been seen from Indiana’s kicking game. The mental state of a kicker is an important aspect to his success, and Oakes seems to be at the right spot in his head.
“I’d like to say anywhere on the field,” Oakes said when asked about his range. “I feel comfortable 60 and in, comfortable to an extent, I guess. But I know I can put it in there.”
Oakes is still young, though, as today was the redshirt freshman’s first career start. While it was encouraging to see Oakes have success, he still will need to show consistency going forward.
“Anyone can go out and kick a field goal like that,” Oakes said. “You just have to come out and do it week after week.”