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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Kicking and screaming

Another football game lost because of missed kicks has fans in an uproar

After another loss that comes from missed field goals, fans are not happy. 

The football team has been plagued with missed field goals, and something needs to change. 

In the last two seasons, Adam Mitcheson was the guilty party. 

His four-year college career mark for field goals (48 of 75, 64%) and his extra point mark (making 89%) weren't good enough for a kicker anywhere in the Division-I level. That is barely even good for a low-level D-II team. 

Mitcheson is gone now, and I thought redshirt freshman Alex McNulty would be better. 

He was the kicker fans wanted until he missed two kicks against Liberty. He hasn’t attempted a kick since.

Jackson Baltar took over from that game and has made only one of his four kicks since. The Ohio game –– where he went 0 for two on field goals and two for three on extra points –– was enough to prove that Leipold needs to make some adjustments.

“To the UB fans, God has a plan for us and yesterday his plan wasn’t what we had hoped for,” Baltar tweeted after the game. “I’m going to move past this and work my ass off for my guys and I know they will too.”

I’m glad that Baltar is keeping his head up and not letting the kicks get to him too much. He can bounce back, and I believe he will if he puts the work in.

I try to think of a kicker as part of the team, so it isn’t all on him. 

But that has to come to an end at some point, and you have to recognize that they have a job to get done. 

In the case of the Buffalo kickers, they are not getting the job done when they need to. 

I understand that Buffalo doesn’t get the first choice for kickers. Buffalo isn’t a top school with any of the top players for any position. So the kickers are usually two or three-star recruits. 

This might not just be on the kickers though. The special teams coordinator can take blame, too. 

Kicking has been a problem for years now, and it started about the time Taiwo Onatolu came here to coach them in 2015. Since he took over, we’ve gone 53 for 86 (62%).

The team needs to figure out who should take the most blame and try to fix the problem before it escalates. 

It may have already gone too far, as poor kicking was one of the reasons Buffalo lost the MAC championship last season. 

The 30-29 loss was on the missed extra point. If UB didn’t miss the extra point, it wouldn’t have gone for two after their next touchdown. Both teams would have been tied at 31 to send the game into overtime. 

I think the majority of the blame is on Onatolu, since the team has had kicking troubles since he started.

But the best way to fix this is to bring in another special teams coordinator and not just appoint someone to the spot. 

Granted, this is going to cost Athletics more money, but the Bulls have proven that they can get to the MAC Championship and with kicking help, they might win it next time. 

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