So many times during the college football season a game can come down to the kicking game. And for the University of Louisville that’s a good thing with ace kicker John Wallace back for another season.
The 6-ft 195-pound junior is a native of Cecilia, Ky., and has been a model of focus and consistency during his career. Dating back to his redshirt freshman season when he kicked a 30-yard field goal in overtime to give the Cardinals a 34-31 win over rival Cincinnati. Then in his sophomore season he made 20-24 field goals falling one short of tying the school record.
But things will be different this year as Louisville enters the ACC with coach Bobby Petrino. For instance teammates used to try to build pressure on Wallace in practice by shouting. Now they practice running kick offs and field goals.
“Coach Petrino is in my ear if I mess up,” says Wallace “Having him there is more of an influence than my teammates.”
Wallace is on track to break former Louisville kicking star Art Carmody’s all time made field goal record of 60, as he has already made 36 in his two years of kicking.
However Wallace does not let records and honors such as the Lou Groza Award that is given to the nation’s top place kicker, get into his head.
“I try not to pay attention to that,” he said “I’m trying to worry about my next kick.”
Wallace said he has made a lot of improvements in the offseason and he was helped by former U of L kicker and six-time All-Pro kicker David Akers, who he worked out with several times.
“I hadn’t really had someone work with me on kickoffs before,” Wallace said “I’ve always kicked them like field goals, but now I realize they’re two totally different kicks.”
With the strength built up over the summer Wallace said he has made field goals of 56-57 yards in the Trager Center. His longest career made field goal came against Pittsburgh his redshirt freshman year when he hit a 45 yard field goal. Wallace may get a chance to break that this year.
“My field goals have gotten a littler deeper this year,” he said. “The coaches have helped my confidence.”
Louisville will enter the toughest schedule in recent history, and they will need all they can get from their players. With a stronger more confident John Wallace, Louisville fans can breathe a little easier knowing the kicking game is in good hands.