2008 Football Previews: Kickers and Punters

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Here's a guy you've probably never seen with his helmet off.  He's Colt David, #6, a senior kicker.  He hit 26 of 33 field goals last year.  While he started out the season pretty shaky, he finished really strong, except for a bad miss on a very short field goal in the SEC Championship Game.  He almost won the Kentucky game at the end of regulation with a kick from 57 yards out that was long enough, but just wide.

He's the pre-season 1st Team All-SEC placekicker, which is a pretty high honor.  

And let us not forget his touchdown run against South Carolina:

Colt David is going to be solid for us this year.  He'll hit most of his field goal attempts, but I am firmly of the opinion that any college football coach who plays for a last-second field goal attempt is a fool.  Sure, you take it if it's all you can get, but you never plan for it.  You never "run the ball to the middle of the field to set up your kick."  You're asking for trouble.  You only take it as a last resort.  College kickers just aren't that good.  Even Colt David, who is a rather good college kicker, is not reliable enough to trust like that.

OK, we're solid at field goal kicking, what about the rest?  Not so much.

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Last year, our kickoffs were terrible.  We had only two touchbacks all year, and on average we put the ball on around the 10 yard line.  That's bad.  We have to improve that.  Returning from "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Far" are Josh Jasper (left) and Andrew Crutchfield (top-right, or middle, depending on the display), both are sophomores on scholarship.  Neither impressed last year at this particular job, but it's a new year, and an offseason of leg strength work and practice may make a substantial difference.  It remains to be seen.

If they can't get the job done, newcomer Drew Alleman may be able to.  He's a walk-on out of Lafayette, and a true freshman.  If we can consistently get the ball to the 5 yard line, that would be a big improvement.

On to punting:

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There's Josh Jasper again.  Next to him is senior Brady Dalfrey, who has never played while at LSU, and has had some eligibility problems.  He spent a year away from the team but has returned hoping to take over the punting duties from the dearly departed Patrick Fisher, who made punting one of the strengths of this team.  Or at least, punting for distance was a strength of the team.  Punting to kill the ball near the goal line wasn't, as we got more touchbacks in the punting game than we got punts fielded or downed inside the 20.

Josh Jasper punted once last year, for 40 yards.  It was fair caught.  If he can do that every time, I'd be pleased.

Punting, along with QB and CB play, is one of the real question marks of this team this year.  A good punter really can make a difference to a team.  I remain convinced that the LSU vs. Auburn game in 2006 would have gone differently if our punter was as good as theirs.  Whenever the team exchanged punts, we seemed to lose 5 to 10 yards of field position.  Part of that problem may have been the return unit, which we will go into another day.

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