PK Spot Up for Kicks

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Nick Weiler and Thomas Moore spent the bye week battling for the starting placekicker role after struggles by both throughout the season. That competition will continue through Thursday’s practice, according to UNC head coach Larry Fedora.

“They’re out there in front of the whole team competing,” Fedora told reporters during his weekly press conference on Monday. “They’re going head-to-head, one after another in live situations. We’ve had quite a few kicks in front of the team and it’s been good competition.”

Placekicker woes have plagued the Tar Heels ever since Casey Barth graduated in 2012. Barth connected on a school-record 66 field goals during his career, including a solid 15-of-21 from 40-yards or more.

UNC has made one field goal of 40 yards or more in the 22 games since Barth’s departure. Moore was responsible for that kick, a 40-yarder in the final minutes of UNC’s 39-17 win over Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl last December.

Moore started the season at placekicker while Weiler handled kickoff duties, but Weiler soon took over. Both kickers have struggled to establish any level of consistency. Weiler is 5-of-8 on field goals (all three misses from 30+) and 35-of-37 on PATs. Moore has missed both of his field goal attempts (both from 40+) and is 5-of-5 on PATs.

UNC’s longest made field goal in 2014 is a 23-yarder against San Diego State.

Weiler missed field goals from 39 yards and 43 yards in UNC’s 28-27 win over Virginia on Oct. 25 and then missed a PAT in the first half against Miami on Nov. 1.

UNC spent two or three periods during the bye week working on field goals, according to PR/WR Ryan Switzer. Both the offensive and defensive units huddled around the alternating kicks to provide a game-like atmosphere, complete with heckling and distractions, ranging from objects being thrown to players running around in the kickers’ field of vision.

“It’s been fun to watch to see those guys compete and kick it,” Switzer said. “Both of those guys have great legs. I feel like it’s just a matter of confidence. It’s a matter of going out there and believing you can get it done.”

Fedora said the placekicking concerns don’t weigh on him until he gets into a game situation.

“It’s not something that I really sit around and worry about,” Fedora said. “I really feel like we’ll put a guy out there and he’ll knock it in, I really do. At that position, you’ve just got to have confidence; that’s all there is to it.”

Freshman kicker Freeman Jones, a U.S. Army All-America, is redshirting this season.

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