Stevens: 'You Guys Kind of Crucified Me'

Now that sophomore Patrick O'Hara's strained muscle is preventing him from playing, the No. 8 Sooners are leaving their kicking responsibilities on junior kicker Jimmy Stevens.

Stevens started all 14 games for OU in 2008 and made eight of his 12 field goal attempts. He was the starting kicker at the start of last season, but after seven games and making 11-of-13 attempts he was relieved of his duties.

But what was to blame?

Was it because he missed a critical field goal in a Texas game that was decided by three points? Was it because there was times where anybody watching a game did not feel comfortable when he lined up for a kick?

Those are both viable reasons, but Stevens adds an Option C: unfair criticism.

"Really, honestly, I didn't kick the ball that bad last year," said Stevens, who is 2-for-2 in field goal attempts this year. "You guys [in the media] kind of crucified me for missing two kicks. I felt like I kicked the ball pretty well last year. I'm kicking even better this year."

Yes, missing two field goals in 13 attempts should not be the kiss of death for a kicker, but it was the fashion of the final miss that got head coach Bob Stoops heated up enough to make a change.

Then, to add more insult, neither of the two replacements, O'Hara and sophomore kicker Tress Way were too successful. O'Hara and Way combined to go 7-for-15 – O'Hara went 6-for-9 and Way made one of his six attempts – leaving room for Sooner Nation to question whom would be OU's kicker for 2010.

O'Hara wound up winning the kicking competition during the offseason, but the team held open walk-on try outs for any position despite people thinking it was just for the kicking job, something that did not sit too well with Stevens.

"It honestly pissed me off because you guys or the media made it out to be to seem like it was just a kicking tryout when, in fact, it was for all positions," Stevens said. "But, it is what it is. I mean, that's what they do. They have to find the person that's best, so – I mean – I can't blame them for doing anything."

All blame aside, Stevens momentarily has his job back, and he intends to keep it this time around. Nobody in Sooner Nation is hoping he fails for the simple fact that it would mean the Sooners would continue to having kicking woes.

From what we saw last week, Stevens should not have any woes, and Stoops feels confident with his kicker.

"He hit the ball so well," Stoops said. "Just really proud of Jimmy to hang in there. He was solid and he hit the ball great. So, hopefully that boosts him and he's had a good week of practice. So I'm excited to him hopefully continue to improve and be a solid guy for us."

Maybe Stevens proves more stock should be put into Option C than the first two options by performing well and making all of his kicks against Cincinnati this Saturday.

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