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OU's kickers are on their own

Sooners, like most programs, don't have a dedicated kicking coach.
By Mike Baldwin, Staff Writer, Modified: October 12, 2010 at 8:11 pm •  Published: October 12, 2010

— Former All-American Uwe von Schamann has asked Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops to be his kicking coach.

"All the time," Stoops said.

While it shocks von Schamann that no college team in the country has a kicking coach, there's an obvious reason. Division I programs are limited to nine full-time assistants and two graduate assistants.

Still, the Sooners' constant search for a consistent kicker led to an interesting line of questions Tuesday at Stoops' weekly news conference.

Why did you become OU's kicking coach?

"I didn't know that I was," Stoops said. "Of course, I talk to them the most and I'm around the most. But in the end I'm no kicking coach."

Have you ever considered hiring a kicking coach, even as a graduate assistant?

"No, not really," Stoops said. "There's a lot of detail in what you can give them and what you can watch. Even though you're not a kicking coach, you can tell foot placement, follow-through, certain things, where they're hitting the ball.

"Those guys can tell you just like when I go to the driving range I can tell when I slice across the ball or when I hook it. They'll tell you right after they hit the ball what was wrong. It's not like they don't know what was wrong. They have to practice and get in a routine to be able to hit it the right way all the time."

But pro golfers have swing coaches. College kickers essentially are on their own during the season.

Most kickers, including OU's Jimmy Stevens, Patrick O'Hara and Michael Hunnicutt, attend kicking camps each summer. They have drills they can use year round. In extreme cases, they can send a tape to their summer kicking coach. But once the season starts, the routine is similar on every college campus.

During special team periods, punters and kickers work with the team. Once that session ends, OU's kickers practice on Owen Field while the offense and defense go against the scout teams on the grass fields west of the locker room.

"The other day I was watching Tress (Way) hit punts and was critiquing him and he would watch me and tell me what I was doing wrong and right," Stevens said. "That's really how we do it. Coach (Stoops) knows some about kicking but it's more us helping each other."

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