Less Thorns Lately

Bryson Rose brought a lot of kicking experience into the 2012 football season. Then came games one and two, and Rose just didn't seem himself.

Follow SpiritJeff on Twitter

A clear indication? He missed his first four field goal attempts of the campaign. That was two against UCA and two against UTEP. Granted two of them were 50-plus yards and one of those was blocked. But there was concern from some, Rose being the main one, that things weren't right.

What did he figure out with the help of others? His mindset needed a tweak or two.

"At the start of the season, I was just so focused on having a good season," said the senior from Raleigh, N.C., in his fifth year at Ole Miss. "Then I decided I'd better start having some fun. I'm a college kid. Just go out there and have fun. And try to be consistent."

It worked. He hasn't missed since. Against Texas he made one of 39 yards, and against Tulane he made two – a 40-yarder and a 47-yarder.

There will be challenges the rest of the way, long field goal attempts, pressure-filled ones, and conditions that will come into play. But Rose is back in the groove, it seems, and he said he believes that, too.

"I lost track there for a little bit," he said of the early kicks this year. "I missed the first couple of kicks and lost my confidence there for a little bit. But I talked to a few people and got some advice from some family and some coaches. They just told me to have fun with it. So that's the main thing."

Almost all placekickers have a coach they've used for a long time. It's a part of the process of becoming a kicker at a high level like college or the pros. It's no different for Rose. He made a call to his mentor for some advice.

"I had film done on my first two games on those misses," said Rose, on at least one national watch list in the preseason as the nation's best college placekicker. "I sent them out to my coach in Arizona, Gary Zauner. He just kind of saw it and told me what I was doing wrong. So he fixed my swing."

Sounds like a golf coach making some adjustments on one of his students.

"It's exactly like a golf swing," Rose said.

And then there are the conditions to take into account. As he looks back, there were several different scenarios with his early kicks that came into play.

Bryson Rose

"On one of them I had the wind in my face," Rose said. "And one I got blocked. But the few I missed, I should have made them. That's on me. I feel good now, and I'm confident. I'm just trying to have fun with it. That's the main thing."

He loved last week's environment. Indoor football means the conditions are perfect. He didn't get a chance to kick after the first two touchdowns as Ole Miss went for two points each time. After that, however, he was 3-for-3 on extra points and 2-for-2 on field goals in the Rebels' 39-0 win at Tulane.

"There's no wind (in the Superdome) first of all, so that's always good for a kicker," Rose said, knowing the second road game of the season will provide a new set of circumstances. "This week at Alabama, it's going to be an awesome environment. I don't think it will be too much different. I've played in all those stadiums."

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, who admitted after the first two games he believed Rose would be fine, said it appears his placekicker has gotten things back in sync now, and he can tell from practice.

"He kicked it really well (Tuesday)," Freeze said. "Tuesday and Thursday are the days we kick field goals and PATs. He didn't miss a one (Tuesday). Very, very solid. I think he's finding his niche, his groove."

Good thing, too, for a Rebel team that is counting on its fifth-year veteran to be one of the positive aspects of the season. Rose isn't kicking off – that duty has been freshman Nathan Noble's mainly this season. But he said he's there if needed.

"I want to do it all, but that's up to Coach Freeze," Rose said. "I respect his decision. If they call me, I'm ready."

It's that teamwork that's helped the Rebels turn things around this early season. At 3-1 they've already won one more game than all of last season in a dismal 2-10 campaign.

"We've come together as a team this year," Rose said. "I think (strength and conditioning) Coach (Paul) Jackson has done a great job getting the team together. We're 3-1, and that's something we haven't had in a while. I'm excited. The whole team is more together, and that's good."

And what if this week's game at top-ranked Alabama comes down to a last-second field goal for the Rebels to win it? Rose said bring it on if that happens to be the case.

"I would love for it to come down to a field goal," he said. "That would be a dream come true. I'm ready for it."

OM Spirit Top Stories