VAUGHT: Masthay hears the criticism

If you are one of the Kentucky fans who worries how punter Tim Masthay will do this season, take satisfaction in knowing the sophomore kicker has heard all the criticism about him.

"It's kind of hard not to know it," Masthay laughed and said. "I don't go out of my way to read about what people are saying or listen to what they are saying. All I can do is try to do my job better and get better.

"I don't know what it is. It seems like everyone has scrutinized everything like I am not trying to do the best I can. I definitely want to do well. Last year I was a true freshmen and it was an up and down season. There were some good things along with the bad. Hopefully I can build on the good things this year and have a more consistent season."

He's already impressed coach Rich Brooks enough not only to be UK's starting punter against Louisville Sunday, but also to get the starting nod on kickoff duties. He had that job briefly last year before losing it to Taylor Begley. But here's the interesting part. Masthay thinks handling kickoff duties will help his punting because it will help relax him.

"I am pleased to be kicking off going into this game. This is the only school that really pursued me for punting. Some schools pursued me for kicking, and some smaller schools wanted me as a receiver. Kicking off is natural to me. I don't think. I just do it and typically do an okay job. That allows me to get into the game more. At least for me, punting is much more difficult. But when I am also kicking off, I just feel more comfortable," Masthay said.

Masthay admits he sometimes has been slow getting off punts. He also notes that sometimes other factors -- low snaps or faulty protection -- have led to problems. However, the biggest flaw with his punting might be mentals. Sometimes he worries more about doing all the things Brooks has taught him than he does punting.

"That probably has been one of my biggest problems. I think about everything I am doing wrong instead of focusing on one thing or just clearing my brain. Earlier in camp, coach Brooks told me, ‘You can think when you are doing drills, but when it is time to come to team drills and do it (punt), you can't think. Just do it.' I've really been working on trying to clear my mind and just do it like I wants.

"I'm a little anxious, and a little nervous, about Sunday. I am anxious to prove myself and help this team do good things. On the other hand, I have some nervous excitement about not knowing what will happen. But I truly believe people are worrying too much. I'm confident I will do a lot better than most people seem to think I will."

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