MSU Football: Kicking Game Spring Analysis

Coach Amos Jones talked to Gene's Page about Mississippi State's kickers, punters, snappers and holders.

DEPTH CHART:

KICKERS

  • 1) Keith Andrews (6-0, 195, SO.)

    PUNTERS

  • 1) Jared Cook (5-10, 188, SR.)

    SNAPPERS

  • 1) Russell Cook (6-2, 238, SO.)
  • 2) Casey Welch
  • 3) Reggie Harris (5-10, 215, SR.)
  • 4) Britt Cross (6-2, 235, JR.)
  • 4) Brian Anderson (6-5, 306, SO.)

    HOLDERS

  • 1) Joe Judge (6-2, 233, SR.)
  • 2) Jared Cook (5-10, 185, SR.)
  • 3) Brett Morgan (6-0, 194, JR.)

    PLAYERS LOST

  • Brent Smith - 2003 starter at kicker
  • Robert Wallis - 2003 part-time starter at punter

    While most fans key on the kicker and punter when talking about the kicking game, new MSU coach Amos Jones, a man who has coached several All-American kickers and who is known as one of the top kicking game coaches in the nation, has been most pleased with another aspect of the kicking game, the snapper position.

    "It is coming up to 24 years for me in coaching and I don't think I have ever had this kind of depth at the snapper position," said Jones. "I have kids on this team that could have started at every place that I have been. This allows us to not have to depend on a freshman to come in and have to play for us."

    Although Coach Jones likes his depth, one guy has stood out among all the snappers, Russell Cook.

    "Russell Cook has snapped one season, both punt and field goal," Jones said about last year's starter, Cook. "We have been very pleased with him. He has bought into everything that we have talked to him about. Most people don't work the snapper in their protections, particularly in the punt game. We focus a lot on making sure he is able to handle the protection part as well as the snapping part. He understands how crucial the fundamental part of his game is to this team and to its success. That is a positive for us."

    Guys backing him up include walk-ons Casey Welch, Britt Cross, Reggie Harris and current starting center Brian Anderson. Coach Jones has seen good things from all four.

    "Casey Welch is a kid who was on the team last year but didn't get any playing time," said Jones. "I feel comfortable with him right now. Britt Cross is a guy that we had to change a little bit, mechanically. He has shown some good things. Brian Anderson is another guy who has a chance to be good."

    Coach Jones has seen more than just a snapper in senior walk-on Reggie Harris.

    "Anytime you have a guy that is a non-scholarship player that is undersized, they have to find their niche. And Reggie has done that by finding a place in everybody's heart," Jones said about the very popular Harris. "He is not the best player or the worse player. But he is a guy who will bring his lunch pail every day and work hard. Every football team needs a Reggie Harris. He is going to be special for us because he is probably a great guy in the locker room."

    Like the snapper position, the holder position has a lot of depth with both starter Joe Judge and his backup, Jared Cook, returning.

    "Joe Judge has been around a while and is an experienced player," said Jones. "I have been very pleased with him. He understands concepts that we like to teach. Jared Cook is another guy who has game experience. Those are our primary guys."

    Their backup is junior Brett Morgan, who is also on the quarterback depth chart.

    "Brett Morgan is a guy who could be used in an emergency from a standpoint of getting us out of a ball game," said Jones.

    Like the snapper and holder, MSU also returns their starting punter, Jared Cook. Jones has liked what he has seen from Cook during the spring.

    "I have been very pleased with Jared," said Jones about Cook, a 25-game starter for the Bulldogs during his three-year career. "He is a hard worker. Everything about him tells me that he is going to have at least the same (punting) average as last year. My goal for him is to be more consistent. We want him to kick more in the coverage angles for us."

    A concern, however, is his backup, or I should say, lack of.

    "Right now, I don't think we have a guy currently (on the team) that is ready to be a punter in this league," said Jones.

    The least experienced aspect of the kicking game is the kicker. Brent Smith, MSU's starting kicker last year, graduated. Behind him was current sophomore Keith Andrews, a player who kicked off in two games last year but didn't attempt a field goal. The lack of experience concerns Jones.

    "I have been extremely pleased with Keith (Andrews), so far," said Jones. "But we are talking about a kid who has not kicked a field goal in a collegiate game. Luckily, he kicked off in a couple of games last year. It is kind of a situation where Keith is going to have to be put in pressure situations."

    While he does have some concern, he has seen some good things from Andrews in the spring that can be built on.

    "A good indication of how Keith has done was last Thursday's scrimmage," said Jones. "He made one (field goal), then missed one. It kind of went on like that for the day. At no point in time did he miss two kicks in a row. I like that because it is something to build on. A lot of times guys go into the tank after missing a ball."

    Overall, the kicking game should be a strength of the team. The only concern is Andrews' lack of experience. But with a kicking coach as good as Amos Jones instructing him, he should be fine.


    Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.


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