Starting as a true-Freshman, Zach Feagles was understandably imperfect, but in Sunday’s contest, we saw little-to-no improvement.
In recent memory, solid kicking has been the norm for the Hurricanes; names that come to mind are: Justin Vogel, Pat O’Donnell, Matt Bosher, and Michael Badgley, who also became Miami’s leader in career points (403) during his Senior year.
Heading into 2018, we expected the kicking game to be a challenge due to Feagles’ struggles, and breaking in a true-Freshman placekicker in Bubba Baxa.
Baxa looked decent in his Hurricane debut, converting a 38 yard field goal, whilst missing one of 40+ yards. Making his first field goal is good start, as he was able to get over the jitters, and was prepared to have his name called.
Feagles on the other hand, wasn’t able to flip the field, especially in the first half, and aided LSU by giving them excellent field position. 2 of his punts didn’t break the 30 yard mark, which is inexcusably bad. He did produce 2 that pinned LSU within their own 25-yard line, but with an average of 36.4 yards, there’s a lot of room in terms of improvement.
Punting is something generally taken for granted, as it’s a typically casual play. With Feagles’ inconsistency however, it’s magnified and easily noticed.
The difference between a 20-yard punt, and a 54-yard punt is astronomical. The field position that his misfires gave LSU changed the game. When the offense has a short field to deal with, the pressure is all on the defense - especially when your offense can’t get anything going.
In a way, Feagles’ inconsistency is in-line with how the team performed on Sunday; streaky, and unreliable. It’s another facet of the game that has to be tightened up in order for the Canes to make the ACC Championship game.