Kickers. There isn’t another position on the field where so many feelings arise from just saying a single word. Kickers on both sides have won the Miami Hurricanes a slew of important football games including the Florida State games in 1991, 1992, 2000, and 2002.
The Hurricanes have had some greats in Greg Cox, Carlos Huerta, Todd Sievers, Matt Bosher, and the underrated Michael Badgley. When all is going well kickers, holders, long snappers, and punters are hardly even an after thought during a football game. It’s only when they miss extra points or shank clutch field goals or punts that we start to wonder, “what’s he even doing?!”
The ‘Canes special teams left fans with a lot of “what’s he even doing?!” moments in 2018. Per the S&P+, Miami’s kicking ranked 97th in the country in 2018 after being a position Miami fans had really come to rely since the 80’s.
Baxa was a three-star prospect out of Pasadena, TX who became Miami’s starting kicker as a true freshman a year ago. Against LSU Baxa was introduced to the world with a less than flattering stat: he finished his senior year of high school a measly four-of-ten on field goals. ESPN posted the graphic and even the USA Today ran with it.
Baxa provided a rare spark to Miami’s kicking game in 2018 having finished 45-of-46 on extra points and nine-of-twelve on field goals as a freshman. Of those 12 field goals, one was blocked and his long was 47-yards. The young kicker landed 41 touchbacks on kickoffs but did kick four out of bounds on the season.
The most overlooked aspect of kicking is having our holder and long snapper return for another season. I know the holder, Jack Spicer, returns. Three long snappers are listed who could replace Jordan Butler. Those three are Jacob Munoz, Clay James, and Alan Nadelsticher and I’m not going to begin to act like I know a thing about them.
Bubba Baxa had a solid freshman season that left room for improvement. Baxa will have a new special teams coordinator and obviously a new strength and conditioning program under David Feeley. The ‘Canes will need to rely heavily on Baxa in the first couple of weeks of the season as Miami faces both the Florida Gators and UNC Tar Heels early.
Prediction: 50 touchbacks, 1 missed PAT, 12-for-14 on field goals.