Kicking Quandary

The Temple football team probably knew it was going to miss Brandon McManus this season. It might not have known how much. Halfway through the season, the Owls have one field goal in six attempts and 10 extra points in 13 chances. In comparison, McManus made 30-of-39 field goals and converted 82-of-83 extra points his last two years as Temple's kicker.

The Temple football team probably knew it was going to miss Brandon McManus this season.

It might not have known how much.

Halfway through the season, the Owls have one field goal in six attempts and 10 extra points in 13 chances.

In comparison, McManus made 30-of-39 field goals and converted 82-of-83 extra points his last two years as Temple's kicker.

A four-year starter at kicker and two-year punter, McManus went to training camp with the Indianapolis Colts this year after a record-breaking career that saw him hit game-winning kicks against Villanova, Central Michigan and Connecticut and play big roles in other wins with range out past 50 yards.

Of Temple's six field-goal misses this season, three have come inside 30 yards. Two of those missed chip shots likely cost the Owls wins over Houston and Fordham.

True freshman Nick Visco remains the Owls' kicker after missing one of his three extra-point tries last week. Another freshman, Jim Cooper, has been relegated to kickoffs after struggling so badly on his place-kicking the first three weeks, and Paul Layton – who has done a solid job as McManus' replacement at punter – proved not to be the fix at kicker.

Coach Matt Rhule admitted this week the problems in the kicking game are affecting strategy as his 0-6 team tries to pull out a win and could use the benefit of three points on occasion.

"A year from now, when we're third-and-10 at the 35, I'd like to be able to get five yards and kick a field goal," said Rhule. "You coach a quarterback in the red zone to act like he has points in hand. Now we don't have points in hand. We have to be more aggressive."

Rhule believes in his kickers, but also believes the true freshmen are short on confidence right now. He doesn't think the highly-regarded Cooper ever recovered from missing three kicks at Notre Dame.

"If you talk to Coop, he'll tell you put me back in, I'll never miss another one," said Rhule. "Sometimes freshmen that have a lot of success are tough to deal with the next year. Coop's a great kid, lot of talent, and he'll be a better player for it.

"He missed those kicks at Notre Dame, it got inside his head and he couldn't get it out of it. He had to answer for it every day, and the more people ask you what's wrong, you think about what's wrong. But these things are cyclical. His shot will come around again, and when it does this time don't let it go."

Visco has the lone field goal this season, but Rhule admitted he's struggled with his trajectory and the freshman had one blocked against Louisville two weeks ago before the extra-point miss last week. Rhule said Visco has the job now, but another kicker coming off injury, sophomore Tyler Mayes, is asserting himself in the competition.

Rhule believes a year of maturity and experience will do wonders for his freshmen kickers, but that won't help if he needs a game-winning field goal kicked against Army Saturday.

"They're going to be two good kickers, I've seen them do it (in practice), they'll be fine," said Rhule. "They're probably playing a year too early, but they have to play now."

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