Josh Shene did not, statistically, have a bad year as the sophomore placekicker for Ole Miss in 2007.
But it's a year he'd just as soon put behind him.
Hampered by a groin injury, and "other" factors much of last season, Shene's numbers slightly dropped from his freshman year, but now he's back in a groove, buoyed by good health, a coaching staff that understands the kicking game and a freshman who has been almost as good as him - Bryson Rose.
"Bryson is pushing me harder than anyone else who has been here in the last couple of years in placekicking," Shene noted. "I didn't know much about him when he got here, but he just showed up and started kicking field goals. I had to get my game right. Competition has made me better and I can tell he's kicking better since he's been in camp."
Josh said it has also helped him to have a healthy groin.
"It's hard to kick with a hurt groin. It's very difficult, as I'm sure you could tell. It was probably as difficult to watch as it was to do," he smiled. "Knock on wood, I will be healthy this year. I haven't had any problems at all this year."
Josh is now a seasoned veteran and he likes it that way.
"I guess ignorance is bliss when you are a freshman and don't know any better, but I like the situation I am in now, where I have experience and I know what's going on and how to react," he stated.
Josh prefers to concentrate on placements, but he said he would not turn down the coaches if they needed him to take on kickoff duties.
"Right now, Justin (Sparks) is doing a great job and I hope it stays that way, but I'll kick off if I am needed. I would prefer not to, but I will do what the coaches need me to do to help the team," he added.
So, besides the injury, what went wrong last year?
"The new staff understands that kickers are different and we need a different routine than the rest of the team," Josh said. "Last year, we couldn't go warm up during halftime. We had to stay in the locker room and then they expected us to come out there and kickoff 70 yards without a warmup.
"This staff understands that. We also have a different workout routine that concentrates more on stretching, which we need. It's better, a lot better, now. They treat us better, that's for sure."
The coaches knowing what is involved in kicking has helped the cause immensely, Shene related.
"Their approach has helped with our confidence for sure. The new staff understands that you can't punt a ball 60 yards with 5-second hang time every time. You can't make 50-yard field goals every time. Sometimes the snap is going to be off a little," he illustrated. "When something like that happens, they don't just rip us, you know? They encourage us. It's all about confidence."
From a technical standpoint, Shene has worked on a couple of things this summer.
"My biggest problem has been keeping my head down. I want to see the ball go through the uprights, so I have been working hard to keep my head down through the kick," he said. "Also, getting my steps and angles down right has been an area I have worked on. Right now, I am very comfortable and have not missed any kicks in scrimmages."
Shene didn't have any game-winning opportunties last year, but he's hoping for some this season.
"I like that situation. A game-winner is what it's all about. I know it seems like a lot of pressure, but you really don't think about it until it's over," he said. "I want to be in that sitaution again, like the Alabama overtime game of 2006."
Tension-free and healthy, Josh is setting himself up for a big year.
Josh Shene -
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