Comfortable Now

It's been well-documented about Ole Miss Placekicker Andrew Ritter's redshirt year his fourth year as a Rebel after kicking off for the three years prior. Now, he's handling all placements in his fifth year and after three games, he's found a comfort zone.

Ole Miss Placekicker Andrew Ritter has had his moment that "stuck in his craw" this season already.

It was in the opener of the 2013 season against Vanderbilt. Ritter had made a short field goal in his first attempt for his first career field goal and then had missed a 55-yarder that was barely wide right.

So far, he was OK with the way his PK debut had gone, but then, later in the game, he lined up for a 44-yarder and, to his disbelief, missed it.

In his words, not acceptable.

"I still look back at that kick and it haunts me. I want to make the 55-yarder, no doubt, but that's not expected. The 44-yarder? I have to make that every time - no excuses," he said. "I don't want to say it was good for me to miss it, but it certainly gave me the feeling I don't want again.

"I don't want to feel that way again and that feeling has made me push myself harder and harder, which, in the long run, has helped my confidence."

Now, Ritter feels more comfortable and ready to tackle the rest of the season.

"I'm absolutely comfortable now. In the opener, I wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be, but it was kind of like my first college game four years ago," he explained. "I had to get into the swing of things, which I felt I did pretty well.

Andrew Ritter
Associated Press

"In the SEMO and Texas games, I was very comfortable and confident."

His 52-yarder as the first half ended at Texas gave the Rebs back some of the momentum they had lost in the second quarter as they headed to the locker room, but he did not hit that ball the way he wanted to.

"Any kick that goes through the upright is a good kick, but as a kicker, I look at the whole operation, including the quality of the kick, and when I hit that ball, I knew I didn't hit it very good," Ritter added. "I could tell by the height and distance. Thankfully it was high enough, straight enough and long enough, but I know what it feels like when I hit a good ball and that wasn't it. I can do better and will do better."

Most folks look at placekicking and think, you only get two or three attempts a game, most of the time, how can you not be ready? Ritter says there's more to it than that.

"You have to be mentally focused for 60 minutes. You have to be into the game and ready at all times," he stated. "If you are over on the sidelines not paying attention and not staying focused, it's hard to just snap into focus when your number is called.

"Being ready at all times helps your confidence and makes your preparation for a kick easier. It gives you a calm feeling."

Ritter derives a lot of his comfort from having an excellent snapper - Will Denny - and holder - Chris Conley.

"I have total faith in them. In my eyes we have the most consistent snapper in Will in the country," Ritter expressed. "Chris is automatic as well. There is never a doubt in my mind the ball is going to be there and as a kicker, that's a huge relief.

"If I had to worry about the ball being placed on time and correctly, it would just make things more difficult, but all I have to worry about is my job. I know it's going to be there and that goes a long way in the operation for sure. Those guys don't get enough credit. What they do is not easy and they are the best at it."

So far, Ritter has been very good on kickoffs, his specialty for three years.

"Obviously, the goal is a touchback every time, but I also work on placement in case I hit one poorly and it's not a touchback," he noted. "We want it to be in a certain area if I miss it a little and it's going to be returned.

"So far, I've done pretty well kicking off, but there's always room for improvement and there's always one or two you reflect back on that you wish you had hit better."

Ritter knows the importance of getting touchbacks this week at Alabama.

"Their kickoff return man (Christion Jones) is one of the best. It's going to be crucial for me to be at my best," he closed. "The best defense for a guy like him is to just not let him get a chance for a return. Kick it out of the end zone.

"That will be a challenge for me, but that makes it exciting and something to shoot for."

A "comfortable" Ritter plans on making it happen, this week and for the rest of the year.

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