When your offense scores an average of 48.3 points per game, it’s easy to forget about the kicking game.
But the kicking game has been Nick Saban’s albatross for his 13 seasons at Alabama.
A missed 30-yard field goal attempt by Joseph Bulovas Saturday against Auburn wiped away the Crimson Tide’s playoff hopes. Bulovas apologized for the missed with a tweet, saying in part: “That is a kick I should make in my sleep.”
Since Saban began coaching the Tide in 2007, Alabama kickers have missed 101 field goals — that’s the most by any Football Bowl Subdivision team in that span.
Ten players have lined up at placekicker in those seasons, making 71% of 351 field-goal attempts. Here’s the breakdown (field-goal attempts/field-goal made):
2007: 34/25 (74%)
2008: 30/20 (67%)
2009: 36/30 (86%)
2010: 25/19 (76%)
2011: 36/23 (64%)
2012: 20/15 (75%)
2013: 20/13 (65%)
2014: 22/14 (64%)
2015: 33/23 (70%)
2016: 29/22 (76%)
2017: 28/19 (68%)
2018: 20/15 (75%)
2019: 18/12 (66%)
The Wall Street Journal studied the flaw in Saban’s armor and found fault in the placeholders.
But the truth is that most teams don’t produce much more substantial results. While Rodrigo Blankenship recently became Georgia’s all-time leading scorer making 83.7% of his 92 field goal attempts, as a group, nine Georgia kickers have scored on 242 of 317 field goal attempts (76.3%) since 2007.
Blankenship himself had a costly miss this season in the loss to South Carolina. A 42-yarder attempt would have extended the game to a third overtime.
Despite the issues, Saban and Alabama have managed to win five national championships since 2009.
It did nearly cost them a title in 2018 against Georgia when Andy Pappanastos’ 36-yard try sailed wide left sending the game to overtime.
Blankenship nailed a 51-yarder in overtime, but it didn’t matter after Tua Tagovailoa heaved a 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith to win the game.
Alabama’s top-rated placekicking recruit Will Reichard hit 4 of 7 field goals in five games before being sidelined by injury. The top three kicking prospects for 2020, according to 247Sports, are committed to Stanford, Ohio State and Southern Cal.
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