Getting his Kicks

Spring football isn't geared to the special teamers, but senior kicker Philip Welch hasn't wasted the last five weeks. Working on finding his groove on field goals and extra strength on kickoffs, Welch is expecting his best season yet in September.

MADISON - A confident Philip Welch admits that he couldn't name many of the 16 field goal attempts he's missed in his three seasons at Wisconsin, just like he couldn't name many of the 54 makes.

But the senior kicker does remember a 39-yard miss in the 21-19 loss in the Rose Bowl and he remembers how good it felt to wear that white jersey under the sunny Pasadena sky. Combine the want to get back with his age, Welch has turned on the intensity this spring, knowing that he has no more than 13 games left in his college career.

Already holding the school record with 153 career extra points made, 156 extra points attempted and a .981 PAT percentage and ranking second in school history in career field goal percentage at .771 (min. 30 attempts), career PAT percentage at .979 (min. 50 attempts), career field goals made with 54 and career points with 315, a confident Welch has spent the spring working on his kickoffs, leg strength and improving all aspects of his kicking game, insights he shared with Badger Nation after practice Tuesday.

Badger Nation: Spring football is a big deal to all the guys competing on the field, but I imagine it's a little different for the kickers and punters. What do you put yourself through during these five weeks to get yourself ready for the season?

Welch: I kind of view it as a time where it's hard to kick on my own before spring ball. This helps me get back into things mentally. I don't kick well probably the first two weeks but during the last three weeks, I am at where I need to be.

Badger Nation: What is your routine for a three-hour practice? Unless the team is doing something with kickoffs, we typically don't see you on the field.

Welch: Our practice is almost done when the team's practice starts. I am heating and warming up about an hour before practice, then we come out and kick and after team field goals, we'll go outside and do some kicking or inside if the team is on the field. We do a lot of weight lifting on our own, too.

Badger Nation: You guys are individuated a lot from the team at times, but that must mean you guys have a good camaraderie and relationship with each other?

Welch: I don't know. We all get along really well because we have so much time together. I wouldn't call it messing around, but we have fun.

Badger Nation: How would you define your 2010 season? Was last season a success?

Welch: I'd say so, excepted for the miss 39-yarder in the field goal, which was just a little unlucky. Other than that, I was 100 percent within 40 yards, which is pretty good. I would have liked to make some of the longer field goals, but it was pretty good.

Badger Nation: Unlucky why?

Welch: Umm … it was close to going in and you aren't going to make all of them. I wasn't a bad hit and it wasn't a bad hold or snap. It just didn't go in.

Badger Nation: Do you think about kicks like that?

Welch: Not really. Not at all. I can't tell you really any kicks that I missed last. I just know I missed some.

Badger Nation: When you look back at your time in Pasadena, how positive was the experience overall moving into next season?

Welch: I think it was an awesome experience. I came in here and I looked at it as a freshman that if I could play in a Rose Bowl, that would be awesome. I wanted to wear a Rose Bowl jersey. We did that, and I hope to do the same this year.

Badger Nation: Going into your junior year, the big emphasis with you was balancing your field goal accuracy and your kickoff power. How did that transition work out between your sophomore and junior season?

Welch: I still need more power on my kickoffs, so I am still progressing on that. I am nowhere close to where I want to be. I want to be a lot better than I am, so I am probably working harder than I ever have leading up into my senior year. I can see that I don't have much time left and I have to get moving.

Badger Nation: Just like spring practices are different for you, I'd imagine winter conditioning is a little different for you, as well. Tell me what you did during that period to keep your lower body strong?

Welch: I'd say I hit the weight room harder than ever before. Same with kicking, working harder than before, and I am doing better in school that I have had before. It all kind of correlates with one another.

Badger Nation: Where do you think your real strength lies right now?

Welch: I'd say my mental game. I think it's a natural progression, but I think everything in life and the pressure situations I have been in have helped me handle things well. It also helps that I am a more laid back guy. With success comes me being more mentally comfortable with situations. If I was only making half my field goals, I would be screwed up mentally.

Badger Nation: Have you been pretty positive with how you have kicked this spring?

Welch: Umm … just in the last week and a half. I had my first miss in the last four practices Tuesday because Nate Tice's hand got in the way of the kick. That's been about it. I had some troubles with the longer field goals at the beginning of spring, but now I am hitting them. I had a 52-yarder with the team, but I hit a 67-yarder inside just screwing around.

Badger Nation: Do you enjoy doing the rapid-fire field goals during the spring game or is it a little too unnatural for you?

Welch: It's a little unnatural, but I just like it being in the spotlight. It's a little bit harder than doing just one kick because you have to get focused for all four.

Badger Nation: You mentioned your kickoffs as something you are trying to improve more. What's the key for you in getting more consistency with the kickoffs where you routinely kick the ball into the end zone?

Welch: I just need to find a way to do more of them without getting injured because in the past, m y kickoffs were real good until I got a leg injury and I couldn't practice kickoffs during practice. That made it hard to do kickoffs. This spring is all about staying healthy and practicing kickoffs, because that's the only way I am going to get good at them.

Badger Nation: You mentioned your time is running down, so what excites you about heading into your senior year?

Welch: I am real excited because I am one of those guys that puts everything off, like papers and homework, until the last minute. I kind of view it as my senior year in high school. I wasn't real good until my senior year because I realized that if I wanted to do anything with football, I would have to be focused that year. My kickoffs that year went 15 yards further, so I am hoping for that this year.

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