Locke On Doing Double Duty

With Lou Grozna winner Kai Forbath uncertain for Saturday, Jeff Locke, UCLA's excellent sophomore punter, talked to us about possibly being pressed into place-kicking duties against Kansas State...

Jeff Locke, UCLA's sophomore punter, could be pressed into place-kicking duties Saturday, due to the groin injury to Kai Forbath.

I know they're giving Kai an extra day, but it looks like you might be back to the old grind … kickoffs, punts, field goals, PATs …

‘'Yeah, feels like high school again.''

If it comes to it, what is your comfort level with the field goals right now?

‘'It's getting there. I'm almost up to 95, 100 percent right now. I'm getting back in a groove a little bit. It's feeling good.''

It's a pretty technical thing to do, not like kicking off at all. What do you need to lock in there?

‘'It's a little bit different than kickoffs and punts where you kind of open up on the ball, you have to really stay down on it to do good. If you come out of it, you'll start missing so you really have to stay down on the ball and keep your eyes down.''

You have a couple lower, hooking kicks. What's going on when that happens?

‘'Usually, it's not disciplined. My eyes come up too quick, so my whole body kind of turns out of the kick, so if I keep my eyes back my whole body will stay back and I'll hit the ball straight.''

Well, the one in two-minute was right there, so …

‘'Exactly. Felt great.''

Obviously you can punt the ball a mile, kick it into the end zone. But as far as a field goal goes, what are you comfortable at right now?

‘'I think I have pretty good range. Kai says I have pretty good range, as long as I don't try to kill the ball. Past 50, I'm fine still.''

But, the comfort level … I mean, I know you can kick it that far, but in terms game conditions …

‘'Exactly, that's what Kai was saying. I can kick it really far, but how far can you kick it straight?''

It's like your tee shot …

‘'Exactly. You can hit a drive 300 yards, but if it's out of bounds it doesn't matter. So, yeah, I'm getting there. Another day and it'll be great.''

Does that back and forth, putting all three together in a game, difficult?

‘'In a game it will be fine because I have a lot of adrenalin going, so my body will keep up. In practice, it's tough because it's a grind on your leg. You've got to try to save your leg as much as possible while being able to do three different swings, so it's kind of tough to manage yourself.''

So, mentally, you're preparing yourself to do all that?

‘'Yeah, mentally, I'm preparing myself like I'm kicking, but the plan is Kai is going to kick. He's got to be ready, though. I'm thinking that I'm kicking right now. That's the only way to do it. I can't go half and half, then I'm not going to be fully focused. The plan is for Kai to kick and if I don't kick, I don't kick. That's the only way you can do it.''

For the field goal part of that, what are the keys?

‘'I have a couple of swing thoughts right now that Kai has been helping me with. I'm lucky to have Kai, kicking coach, and then Danny Rees can hold lefty and righty, which is actually very difficult. Having both of those guys to help me out is great. And I have a couple of swing points that Kai helps me out with, and that's pretty much, we call it, eyes back and finish, that's what we say. You want to keep your eyes back and then finish your swing.''

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