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OU looking for consistency from kickers

Most of Oklahoma's special-teams units — the punt team, return teams and cover teams — have been solid. But inconsistent field-goal kicking last season likely cost the Sooners several wins.
By Jake Trotter, Staff Writer, Modified: August 10, 2010 at 9:30 am •  Published: August 9, 2010

NORMAN — Oklahoma faced unimaginable adversity last season.

Injuries ravaged the roster, including 12 starters.

And yet, with better field-goal kicking, OU could have still won 10 games.

With great field-goal kicking, maybe even 11.

Instead, in narrow losses to BYU, Texas and Nebraska, the Sooners missed a total of five field goals. And had to settle for an 8-5 record.

"It wasn't good enough," OU coach Bob Stoops said. "I can see, when you're out there past the 40, that's gonna be that way. But we missed too many in the 30 range that we have to make.

"It would have changed some games a year ago had we made them. So we got to make them."

Ironically, the rest of OU's special teams have been terrific.

In Tress Way, the Sooners boast one of the top punters in the country. Ryan Broyles is an electric return man. The cover units have lately been solid.

But to contend for a national championship, OU will probably require more from its place-kicker.

"We always want touchdowns. But there are times you need the three points, the for-sure points," Broyles said. "We have some guys.

"We just need to find that one that's ready to step up."

The Sooners aren't lacking for options.

Even with Way now focused solely on punting, OU still has four kickers vying for the starting job in Patrick O'Hara, Jimmy Stevens, Bryce Easley and Michael Hunnicutt.

"It's just gonna be who can be the most consistent," said Stoops, who also coaches the kickers.

O'Hara is the favorite to open the year as the starter. A walk-on out of Topeka, Kan., O'Hara took over for Way and Stevens last season with four games to go.

After he nailed a 47-yarder at Texas Tech, OU's question at kicker appeared to be answered. But O'Hara missed three field goals in the Sooners' final two games, preventing him from solidifying the starter's role.

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Costly kicks

BYU: It was a desperation shot, but Tress Way had the chance to beat BYU from 54 yards out. Instead, his kick came up several yards short, and the Cougars held on for the 14-13 upset.

Texas: Jimmy Stevens' 45-yard miss came back to the bite the Sooners, as Texas won by a field goal in this defensive struggle, 16-13.

Nebraska: OU's offense sputtered against what turned out to be the best defense in college football. Still, OU had four chances to come up with points on FGs. Way misfired on two and had another blocked, and the Huskers prevailed, 10-3.


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