Sophomore Kicking His Way Into Starting Lineup

Punter Geoff Price begins his second season in an Irish uniform and is making a strong challenge to be the No. 1 punter this season. He had an impressive outing in the Blue/Gold game averaging 45.8 yards on six punts, booming one punt for 64 yards and another for 55 yards. Becoming more consistent will be a goal for Price in fall camp and the season. Irish Eyes talked with Jeff after the morning practice on Monday.

Geoff Price is involved in his second fall camp and can add spring camp to his experience. He feels much more at home now and laughed when talking about camp.

"I know exactly what is going on now, whereas before, I wasn't sure," Price said. "I'm adjusting to the speed of things better. So far we haven't done much full punting, and I have hit some good ones and some not so good. As soon as I can get rid of the bad ones and keep hitting the decent ones, I will be in pretty good shape."

The off-season conditioning program is important to all players and Price said he worked hard over the summer. The 6-3, 190-pound sophomore said he worked out with a former NFL punter.

"I didn't go to any punting camps, but I did work out at home for a little while with a guy who played for Oklahoma, the Bengals, and the Patriots," Price said. "He helped me with the minute things - keeping my shoulders square by keeping my left arm in, taking shorter steps, and little things like that to get me squared away. After that, I came back to Notre Dame for summer school and off-season running. Everything else, I did on my own."

According to Price, the No. 1 punter, and his primary competition coming into camp, has been senior D.J. Fitzpatrick.

"D.J. took over the punting last year when Setta got hurt and he has a lot of game experience," Price said of Fitzpatrick. "I do not have any college game experience and have only done the Blue/Gold game. I did pretty well but he is the incumbent right now so I have to beat him out. I am only working on punting and none of the other kicking, but I have been practicing as the holder and hopefully I can do that.

"I really don't think the coaches have made a decision yet about the starter. When we start to punt DJ will go with the first team, then when we go to the other end of the field, we switch and I go with the first team and he goes with the second team.

"Unless something really major happens, I think going into BYU, it may not be solidified and maybe they will try then to see how we both do in the game. Who knows, it is all up to the coaches and anything could change. If DJ is the starter for the BYU game, and something went wrong, they may put me in to get me some experience--or vice versa. I might do something wrong and they might put DJ in. We will just have to wait and see."

Price has shown signs of being a big-time punter and realizes he could be a special weapon for the Irish. He also recognizes he has some things he needs to work on.

"I can kick a long way," Price said. "I get pretty good height and distance when I hit it right. But my problem is, and I am working on it right now, I have to be more consistent.

"I'll hit a 55-yarder or something like that, then come back and push it off to the left. I have to get rid of those shanks. If I can work those bad punts into just decent ones, then I'll really be in good shape. I want to cut out those 30-yard punts and get them up to 37, and with those other ones, have a good 40 something yard average.

"In high school, I changed my motion too much because I went to some camps and they tried to change me and that just didn't work. So this past summer, I went back to what I used to do. I have to concentrate on my techniques because I get in trouble when I try to cross over. I have to hold the ball outside my leg so everything is straight.

"When I cross over, that is when I hit the bad one so I if I keep it straight, then I will do well. Another thing I am working on is making clean catches, getting faster, and making a clean motion; then the kicks will get better."

To get the feel of what it is like standing back to get a punt off cleanly, Geoff is doing a couple of things.

"I normally do the punt return scout team, and when they are trying to block it, I try and get in there and do that. That way I'll get used to facing a huge rush because in the Blue/Gold game there wasn't any rush.

"Sometimes when practicing, I visualize what it would be like in a game. I'll be standing on the two-yard line and it's against Michigan, and I have to get it off to keep the win. Other times the kickers will have contests like best ball to just get that extra competition to make us focus more."

There is no doubt the Irish punting game must improve in the upcoming season. If Geoff Price continues to work hard and improve, he could very well be the player who will have this responsibility of raising the punting game to new heights. Top Stories