The difference was like night and day.
"It is tough because I feel like I let my team down and I let the coaches down," Wisconsin kicker Scott Campbell said, after missing two field goals against West Virginia. "They want me to be a hundred percent as a kicker. One for three, that is not good enough. Coaches know that is not good enough."
Campbell was a hundred percent Saturday against Akron, hitting from 27 and 35 yards out. More importantly, though, Campbell's confidence was noticeably and seemingly immeasurably higher.
"He had a different look in his face," special teams coach Brian Murphy said. "He kicked the ball with authority."
After missing his first two attempts against West Virginia, Campbell has now hit three straight.
"First game jitters," Campbell said in reference to the West Virginia game. Against Akron, he said he was, "more relaxed playing at home. (I was) feeling good and had a great day."
Campbell is keeping the place kicking seat warm for Mike Allen, who dressed for Saturday's game but did not take the field. It is unclear when Allen will return, though, so Campbell's improved confidence is immensely important for the Badgers success.
Excelling on kickoffs
While Campbell may not remain the team's place kicker through the course of the season he will certainly continue kicking off for Wisconsin. Campbell can seemingly put the ball into the end zone at will, but the Badgers feel they can do better than simply creating touchbacks. Campbell has consistently kicked the ball toward the deep corner, allowing the Badgers coverage units to hem in the return man.
Wisconsin's coverage broke down on one kickoff Saturday, resulting in a 52-yard return for Akron's Jamie Goodwin. Another kickoff took place at the 20 do to an unsportsmanlike penalty following the preceding touchdown. That kickoff was returned 23 yards to the Akron 32.
On seven other kickoffs, however, Akron never achieved field position better than their own 25, and three times were pinned inside the 20. Despite the 52-yard jaunt, Goodwin averaged just 19 yards on seven returns Saturday, a tribute to Wisconsin's coverage units, and Campbell's ability to pin the ball into the corner.
"If you kick the ball to that third of the field you kind of cut down the field a little bit, you don't have to cover the entire field," Murphy said.
Campbell did have two touchbacks Saturday. One was blasted through the end zone. The other was a mistake.
"I have been told to kick them (deep right)," Campbell said. "I pulled one deep middle accidentally."
As far as mistakes go, that is not too shabby.
The Badgers have a new holder this season, punter R.J. Morse
Quarterbacks Jim Sorgi and Matt Schabert were the team's holders last season, but during practice sessions they work with, of course, the quarterbacks. Morse held for the kickers by default in practice and developed a knack for the trade.
"R.J. has done a heck of a job," Campbell said. "During practice he would do the holding for us because the quarterbacks couldn't go in and he just got really good at it. We told coach Murphy about it and he gave him a shot. He is doing a heck of a job."
"There is no great mystery to a holder other then catching a snap and putting it down and allowing the kicker to be successful," Murphy said. "I asked those guys who they wanted. Common sense would dictate—R.J. spends two hours with those guys, where, he taught himself how to hold. Those guys were working on snaps and on timing and R.J. was holding for them and has developed into a really good holder. Those guys, with all the work that the kickers do with him, they felt that he was the best one, the most confident one."