Q&A with Mike Allen

Badger kicker Mike Allen talks with Badger Nation's Ronny Whitworth about last week's opener against Fresno State, his feelings on the kickoff job, fellow kickers Scott Campbell and Adam Espinoza, his range and much more.

Q: Your first kick last Friday obviously wasn't a good way to start the season, but you rebounded for three field goals including the game-winner and earned the Big Ten's Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Was that a fairly successful way to start the season?

Allen: Yeah, it's a good start. It's obviously not how we wanted it to start. We wanted to be perfect with everything, and we weren't. I mean obviously none of us were perfect at all. We have a lot to work on. But it was a decent start. It could have been a lot better. Hopefully we will be able to rebound and start off this game how we ended the last.

Q: What was going through your mind after that first kick, coming back to get yelled at on the sidelines and everything? That must have been awfully difficult to recover from.

Allen: Oh, you can't think about it. You can't worry about it. It's not a big deal. It's over. I screwed one up. Don't screw up any more. That's what you have to think and I was able to do pretty decent after that.

Q: Brian Murphy said he didn't think anybody made errors in fundamentals out there. It was all a case of first-game nerves. Would you agree with that?

Allen: Yeah, you could probably just say it was nerves. I think fundamentally we were okay. We were just fine. But yeah, it was probably nerves. You could see it on a lot of guys on the team, not just special teams too. We just had to get the first-game jitters out and I think we did. After that we started moving and we started moving the ball. We just started flowing a lot better after we got a few of those things out.

Q: Is kicking a game-winning field goal in front of 75,000 people on national TV something you can ever get used to? Or is that always going to be a nerve-wrecking experience?

Allen: It doesn't matter how many people you're in front of or anything like that. It's always going to be exciting and fun. You just try not to think about whether it's a game-winning field goal or any type of field goal. They should all seem the same. Unfortunately, the ones that really count, those are the ones where you get the butterflies in your stomach, but if you're able to block that out and not think about it, you're usually in pretty good condition.

Q: Do you feel your real strongpoint is your consistency from 35-40 yards in?

Allen: Yeah, those field goals I missed, to me it wasn't very typical for me. At least that's what I think. Other people don't know, and that's fine. Usually I think 45-50 yards and in is in my range. That's with no wind or with wind or anything like that. I should be alright, and that shouldn't be a problem. No, I just shanked them. I just shanked it. I'm pretty comfortable, I guess you could say 45 and in.

Q: When you get to 45 yards and beyond, isn't it a little bit of a different mindset, in terms of how you have to drive the ball to get the distance?

Allen: Yeah, you usually just have to drive the ball farther, and you're not going to be able to work on getting your height up. You're going to have to obviously work on getting it farther. So you just have to drive it a little more. It's like if you're pulling out your driver, your ball is not going to go that high off the ground. On the shorter ones, you pull out your five-iron or something like that.

Q: Is not kicking off something that bothers you or something you're shooting for? Or are you perfectly happy to focus on field goals and let somebody else handle that job?

Allen: I'm not aiming at it too much. I mean, I'd love to be able to do it. I'd love to be able to do everything, but I can't. Right now, I believe and I believe the coaches believe, Scott Campbell and Adam Espinoza are up to par with their kicking off, and I'm not. But I haven't been practicing that much either. I just haven't really been doing it in practice at all, because they just kind of said, `It's alright, you can just stick to field goals, and Scott and Espy can do kickoffs' and that's fine with me. If it came down to it, I'd love to be able to do them all. But Scott and Espy have the lead…I believe, and I think everybody else believes, they have a stronger leg than I do, especially on kickoffs. So if they can do it, I will be more than happy to just let them do it.

Q: It seems like you really handled your early miss Friday night well, but how did Scott Campbell do with his adversity? After his eight-yard punt and being pulled from kickoffs early in that game, how has he dealt with that tough first game?

Allen: Scott's a really strong kid. He's really strong mentally and physically. But we talked, we're roommates. We sat down and talked about it, just common stuff. You just can't worry about it. I passed on a quote that Scott Starks gave to me, and he learned it from Jamar Fletcher. It was, `As a D-back, you've got to have a short-term memory.' You can't remember what happened last time. Don't think about it, don't worry about that stuff. And that's what I said to him. I just said, `Just don't worry about what happened last time. Smile. We're winning the game. We're going to win this game. Just have a positive attitude towards everything.' And he does. It's hard. I know it's hard for him. It was hard for me last year when I started messing up and I lost my job. But I know Scott is going to rebound just like that. He's a very strong mentally.

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