DePasquale Having His Colorful Kicks

No, he's not a vampire or any other such solar-phobic thing. He's a kicker. And while that in itself automatically puts Derek DePasquale on the odd side there is sound reason for preferring evening football. Or sight reason, rather. "I don't like day games. These pretty blue eyes are sensitive to light."

Maybe so. That hasn't kept DePasquale from having a literally colorful career already with Mississippi State. Whether it is his screaming-yellow cleats, or the consistency with which his placekicks clear the uprights, DePasquale has been a bright spot for Bulldog point production.

"He's done a good job," Coach Dan Mullen said Monday, adding, "I'm sure he'll tell you how good he's going to do!"

Yep, from coach to correspondents DePasquale must cope with the quips inevitably aimed at kicking specialists. Especially them that boot from a hold. Fair or not it is his position fate to receive, ahhh, special treatment from almost everyone.

Fortunately, he's equal to the opportunity. And all joking aside DePasquale is having a pretty special career here at Mississippi State. He has made good on eight of nine field goals this season, second-best in the SEC this week; and is perfect on point-afters. Not that the senior sees his feet-feats as anything that special so far.

"I've really just been doing my job, I haven't had anything difficult on my plate. Just basic kicks."

True, since everything made in 2011 has been from 26 to 42 yards. The lone miss was from 47 on opening night at Memphis. "Yeah, I don't know why I missed that one," he said. His coach says he does.

"He was just slightly over-striding and pulling some kicks," Mullen said. "And his first step got him a little off-balance. Just stuff we worked through." Results since have been completely satisfactory, belying some concerns raised when all Bulldog kickers were struggling back the first week of August drills.

"A lot was made in preseason camp, we were missing some extra points and weren't looking sharp," said Mullen. "That's one thing we weren't worried about. I trust his experience, how he prepares." The coach had good reason for faith after DePasquale was good on 10-of-12 field goal tries in both 2009 and '10. Oh, and he's never missed a PAT in 63 tries, by the way.

In fact, DePasquale is now the most accurate field goal kicker in Mississippi State history, having made 84.8% in three years. So far, he clarifies. "Well, there's a long season left!" Spoken like a kicker, huh?

This ought to be something of a special week for the kicker too. It was last year against UAB that DePasquale tied the program record of five field goals in a game making all his attempts. The Bulldogs needed them all, too, in a 29-24 home field victory. A record is always good, DePasquale said.

"Yeah, it's been running through my head. I wouldn't want that again—I wouldn't mind it!—but hopefully we can really put it on them this year."

Somewhat more seriously, DePasquale downplays his own 2011 efficiency and shares the credit with the rest of the placekick crew. Which is new for this year but hasn't missed a note. "I've been really comfortable with Baker and Reed, a lot more than I thought I would be," said DePasquale.

"I really haven't been challenged this year. I mean I was taught by my dad that you have to make everything within 42 yards, that's just a given. I've had one of 47 yards that I pulled a little left, other than that I haven't been challenged. I just didn't do my job. I have had two 42 yarders."

Hmmm, what makes 42 yards the magic number? "The ball is spotted on the 20, you're getting in the red zone," he explained. When a rude (ahem) writer reminds that this would be a 37-yarder… "Excuse me, 25," DePasquale sidesteps. "The modern red zone. The kicker's red zone!"

Speaking of red, DePasquale is not seeing that as often this year. Literally. Monday, Mullen offered the ‘red contacts' DePasquale wore in 2010 as further evidence that this indeed is a kicker. D.D. has to set this record straighter, sadly.

First, they weren't really vampire-red. "It was more of a reddish orange." Second, "Nike stopped making my contacts. I don't get those any more." This is not kicker comedy either, but something real. The tinted lenses were used by all sorts of athletes for day games, especially baseball outfielders that didn't want to bother with sunglasses or flip-shades.

"I used them when I played rugby and soccer," DePasquale said. "I have really sensitive eyes. And I miss them, I can't find them anywhere. If y'all can, let me know!"

A further clarification: DePasquale said he never wore the tinted contacts during an actual game. Not that he had much need to in 2010 as only twice did the Bulldogs play by day, against Alcorn State at home and in the Gator Bowl. They were a purely a practice convenience, but all the morning kickoffs this season—including this week and next—has DePasquale squinting. "I don't like day games," he repeats.

"I could wear a visor but I don't think Mullen would like that. He won't let me wear sunglasses." No, but the coach does allow his kicker to take the field wearing cleats that can blind from 42 yards away. With purple trimming, at that. A fashion statement, hey?

"I like those shoes, they're comfortable," DePasquale sniffs, as if insulted by the inference. "I like them! I don't know what the exact color is, I'll look that up and let you know."

At least DePasquale is playing without the 70s-style lip shrubbery he wore in spring practice right up to the Maroon-White game when he finally shaved it away. His mother was in town for the game, he explained at the time. But this week the kicker is looking pretty grizzled with a developing beard and ‘burns. "I lost the charger to my electric razor, so…"

So…"He's a kicker and I have to put up with him!" Mullen said. "But when he's called on to do his job he comes out and does it a high level."

That includes all aspects of his job, including conditioning work. Yes, kickers have to do it with the team, too. "And we did a little extra today," DePasquale said Tuesday. "It was fun. I like to stay in shape, look sexy, you know?"


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