Conversation with Coach Rippon

Coach Rippon talks about kicking and the possible return of Jamarca Sanford in the secondary.

What did you see out of both punters Saturday?

I was very disappointed in both Justin and Rob. You hope that a switch will cause an infusion of something. You are looking for someone that can flip the field or at least provide a spark, but we weren't able to do that. We generated nothing. The frustrating thing, that everyone sees, is that Justin has the ability. He doesn't have the consistency, but he does have the ability to be a top-notch player. But the rule of this program is to compete and play the best at the time, I can't sit by and let Justin think he is acceptable to have a 40-yard punt and a 31-yard punt.

What is the main reason for inconsistency?

It is a maturity thing. I don't know that experience necessarily corrects it. It is maturity and a certain acceptance of responsibility. Experience helps you deal with difficult situations like punting out of the end zone, handling a 10-man rush or sky kicking, but maturity means handling your business every single play, and that hasn't happened. That is terribly frustrating.

How is Bryan Powers doing?

I'm disappointed in Bryan's progress also. We are at that point of the season. You evaluate your personnel and you evaluate yourself. I'm frustrated at them, and I am upset with myself. It is my job to get it right. I don't feel any of the kickers or punters have progressed into a consistent point where you know what you will get out of them. I have great confidence in Josh Shene and Justin that they can be good, but they're not. That falls on me. I get mad at them, but I am more mad at myself for not providing an environment that motivates them and has them at the top of their game. Bryan is having trouble adapting from a three-step kick to a two-step one. He seees the opening and has great pressure on himself, but it hasn't come around yet.

What does Jamarca bring back to the secondary if he does play?

He brings us great leadership on the field. He has done a nice job on the sidelines, but it will be on the field. He is our best tackler and our hardest hitter. He has the most experience, and it is a different game with him back there. I think Johnny Brown has played two solid games, but he isn't Jamarca Sanford yet.

How is Johnny doing with the mental part of the defense?

He has done a solid job, very good job. It is more reading the offense than it is knowing the concepts of our defense. There are very few plays where he isn't where is supposed to be.

What is going on with Josh Shene?

Josh is understanding that he needs to work very diligently to be on the top of his game. Last year is a blur to him. He came in without worries, kicked and did so without a lot of pressure on him to do well because not much success returned from two years ago. He is thinking too much and overreacting to certain situations. It is frustrating, and I know he takes things very seriously. Like the field goal the other day, I watched the way he set up to kick, and I knew the ball wasn't going through. It was a technical error, and at any position, you can't have a technical error. He was overcompensating. We are trying to tell him that he is a football player and his job is kicker. He is responsible for accepting the responsibility of his position and playing with the technique that is coached because that is the best way to do it. On that kick, he didn't. On the other side, he did a good job with kickoffs Saturday. He got it past the guard to the fullback, and that is exactly what we wanted. McFadden nor Jones were going to get a chance. A couple weeks ago, Josh kicked one in the air, and it hurt us. There is progress, but he has to accept certain responsibilities.

His trajectory has improved. Can you talk about that?

His plant foot was correct, but his head and body were back instead of kicking chin over toe. He was pulling out, and that caused the ball to stay low. Now, he is kicking it solid with good trajectory. The problem Saturday was not taking the correct steps during setup.

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