Right now one of the biggest questions surrounding the second-ranked Sooners is the state of junior place kicker Trey DiCarlo. A Groza finalist a year ago, DiCarlo is in the midst of the worst slump of his career, and right now it is easy to see that OU Head Coach Bob Stoops has lost some confidence in him.
DiCarlo is a very average 8-for-15 overall, 2-for-5 between 30 and 40 yards and 0-for-4 on kicks 40 yards or longer. DiCarlo has done a good job kicking off with most of his kicks going into the end zone or being placed where the OU coaching staff wants them.
The OU coaching staff knows that Trey is a better kicker than this and they are just waiting for him to bust out.
"Trey has struggled a little bit recently, but he has also hit some good balls," said Stoops after Wednesday's practice. "He hasn't been hitting it as good as he can or as good as we have seen him kick it, but he is working on it and he is getting closer."
A kicker is basically on his own working out of his slumps. There isn't a kicking coach on the Sooner staff and special teams coach Bobby Jack Wright has never been a kicker. DiCarlo has had some outside help and Coach Stoops feels he can help DiCarlo work things out.
"There are probably a lot of guys we could call that could help him, but we are limited on what we can do," said Coach Stoops. "I would like to think that I can help him. I have been around kickers for a long time and I understand the fundamentals. Trey isn't far off and he has a strong leg. We have noticed some things that he needs to work on and he has been this week. He is working hard on it and we just have to send him back out and hope he comes out of it because he is certainly capable of kicking the ball through the uprights from 50 to 55 yards out."
Stoops and his staff have never been hesitant to pull a player out of redshirt if it would help the team and the Sooners have Garrett Hartley waiting in the wings. Hartley was considered the top prep kicker in Texas last season and he has a strong leg. However, at this point the Sooner coaching isn't thinking about pulling the redshirt off of Hartley. At least not at this moment.
"That is not something that I am thinking about doing at this time," said Stoops. "Trey isn't that far off and in practice Trey still does a little better than Garrett. He is a little more consistent. Garrett is going to be a great kicker for us in the future, but right now Trey is the guy we are going with. If I thought it would help our team to put Garrett in there I would do that, but right now our best chance to win in the kicking game is with Trey."
Bobby Jack Wright is the defensive end and special teams coach at OU and talked to OUinsider.com about Trey's problems. More importantly, he was asked if Trey can come out of his recently slump.
""I am going to give him a swift kick I the rear, which is my medicine for him I guess," said Wright. "No, he is struggling right now as a lot of kickers do and Trey is kind of in a slump. It is no different than a major league batter who is hitting .300, but gets in a two to three week slump and he is 0-for-17 and that type of thing. Kickers go through that and it is catching us at not a good time. Really, any time for him to go through it is not good, but we are trying to make a push for a championship and it is a little more critical for us right now. However, he will be fine. He is a guy that knows what he is doing and he has spent a lot of time working on his technique, looking at his mechanics and trying to get some things corrected that we have seen on tape that are maybe a little bit different that he needs to be doing.
"He is trying to clean it up and again it is no different than Tiger Woods," Wright continued. "Tiger Woods is the best in the world, and all of a sudden he can't find a fairway. All last summer Tiger Woods was hitting them right. That is kind of how Trey is right now. He can't find the uprights and Tiger Woods couldn't find the fairway. It is something that athletes go through and I look back last year to the kicker at A&M. Todd Pegram was really struggling and was barely at .500, but this year he is 13-for-13 and he should be a Groza finalist in my opinion. He hasn't kicked that many, but he has been absolutely perfect on the year. That is something that kickers go through. There is nothing you can do except to keep plugging and keep working. Hopefully Trey will find his swing again."
Do kickers revert to film when they struggle?
"Any athlete studies film today, whether you are having success or failure. Film is a great feedback because you get to see it right there immediately. So, regardless if he is successful or not, we spend time every day looking at video tape. We watch exactly what he is doing on different kicks."
However if all else fails the swift kick in the rear is the old coaching standby?
"Yeah, that is that great special teams coaching of mine," laughed Wright. "If he doesn't kick it through the uprights I kick him. No, I am kidding. Trey is a competitor and he has done well the two years previous. He is just in a little slump and it bothers him because he is a competitor and he has a lot of pride. He wants to make all of his kicks and certainly there is nobody more disappointed about it than Trey."
Is the mesh between the holder and the kicker where it needs to be?
"Oh yeah, there hasn't been any problem there," Wright said. "The snap has been good and the holder is good. The only problem that Trey has is that he is not sticking it between the sticks."
Sooner coaches say DiCarlo working out kinks
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