Starting right now with taking a look at the Scott Webb-less kicking game, Rock Chalk Talk will begin our official preview of the 2007 Kansas football season. Hopefully I will get it done on target (7 days before the season starts) so I will have ample time to talk about Central Michigan.
In the 2006 season, Scott Webb was tied for 43rd in all of college football with 76 points. Among the 3 other kickers also racking up 76 points was the heavily-hyped Mason Crosby of Colorado. You know, the one who could supposedly hit one from 60+ yards, even away from the thin air of Boulder. Yet, Mason found himself playing for one of the worst teams in not only the Big 12 but in all of college football. So bad, were the Buffaloes, that Mason only had a chance for 19 freebies, compared to Webb's 38. Despite such a big edge in something that had little-to-nothing to do with the two kickers, Mason's 6 more successful FG's (in 10 more attempts) proved to be the equalizer. However, we didn't come here to compare and contrast the 2006 success of Mason Crosby and Scott Webb, but to instead analyze Webb alone. Maybe we should get back on topic...
Scott Webb = Average Kicker
Webb, throughout his time at Kansas, has been known for his lack of distance and a supposedly accurate leg. Supposedly. His accuracy rate last season of 72.2% (13 of 18) ranked him at 72nd in the NCAA, a decent mark but not anything to write home about. He never ran out there to try an attempt more than 49 yards long and was a meager 4 for 8 from 40+ yards including his career long make of 49 yards. He was a perfect 8-8 from 30-39 yards and missed a chip shot from under 29 yards. He has been one of the few staples of the last 3 years on the Jayhawks, and despite his lack of a power leg and inconsistency it is good to have him back kicking the ball for the Jayhawks.
Besides Webb, there isn't much to look at. Of course, we are talking about the kicking position after the starter. Sure, there are a couple of back ups on the roster but neither one was on the team last season.
OK, now we can start talking about some players besides Scott Webb. Namely Stephen Hoge, a 2 star recruit out of last year's class. Ranked as the 17th best kicker in the 2007 class. Hoge figures to be the future replacement to Scott Webb, although he figures to have a less prominent role this year. I guess kickoffs would be a reasonable expectation, considering Webb's lack of a power leg. Especially considering the fact that 85% of his high school kickoffs were touchbacks (HT: KU Athletics). Besides Hoge, walk-on Jacob Branstetter is joing the Jayhawks this season. He figures to do little besides sit on the bench and cheer on the team.
All in all, Webb gives us a completely average kicker. Hopefully he can improve this year, just as he has the previous 3 years. Plus, Hoge could be an X-Factor with his kickoffs, we struggled with field position at times last season. I don't expect this unit to win us too many games this upcoming season, but it isn't likely the group will make any mistakes critical enough to lose us any games.
Next up: The punting unit