Today begins Pool 3 of the first round of the “Who Wants to be a Blogger” contest. Like yesterday, we will have four contestants, each profiling a different UK footballer. One will be eliminated tonight at 8:30 pm. Today’s judge is Hunter Campbell
A kicker holds a unique position on the football field, not only for his abilities, but the the “X-factor”. Such a phrase is repeated ad nauseam to describe any number of unique abilities that an athlete may possess, but it is rarely properly used. The “X” indicates the unknown, the potential for unpredictability. A kicker could kick the ball, the result being any number of scenarios (look up Alabama, Florida, South Carolina last year); however the other option is far more exciting. The fake punt is a play of deception designed to surprise opponents and gain the first down. But in order to gain the element of surprise the opposing return team has to respect the abilities of the kicker, and the only way to achieve that is through consistency. If anyone can remember a strong-legged punter by the name of Glenn Pakulak, they can remember the comfort they felt when he lined up, and it wasn’t the metal bleachers in Commonwealth that were causing that feeling. He had a quick release and astounding distance that set up a long field in front of an opposing offense and allowed him to carry a respectable 226.0 passer rating (1/1, 15 yds). A Guy Morriss product, his success was a far cry from the Hal “I don’t give scholarships to kickers” Mumme days. Fast forward to the Rich Brooks era, our roster is stronger at every position, and kicker is no different. But UK had a cupboard that was too full last year, with a senior returning starter and promising players itching to climb the depth chart. After the departure of Tim Masthay several opportunities have opened up, including placekicking and punting duties.
Ryan Tydlacka is one of those players vying for time on the field this fall, and his stats make a solid argument for his candidacy. Tydlacka, who appeared in 11 games last year, showing both an undeniably powerful leg and exceptional touch, but it was combining the two that emerged as a need for the redshirt freshman from Louisville. Four of his first five punts were 40+ yard touchbacks, but the lone punt that did not drift in the endzone settled at the one. He focused his accuracy for the next few games, landing four straight inside the 12. Splitting time with Lones Seiber IV he continued to make impressive kicks, landing five more inside the ten, but overall did not stand apart from his competition.
Some people, mostly those who know about kicking, say that a kicker performs the best when they are used often and are allowed to get in a rhythm. Using that, Tydlacka saw his most extensive action in the JV game against Fork Union Military Academy, where he was perfect on extra points (7) and the field (2/2 43,46yds). He also handled the kickoff duties, averaging almost 48 yards per kick.
The bottom line: Tydlacka is first on the depth chart to punt this year and undoubtedly has strengthened his leg in the weight room. If he can impress the coaching staff with accuracy and consistency it’s possible he could see time at kicker if Seiber comes up short (or wide left). As anyone who has considered themselves an athlete or a fan of the game, achievement comes down to heart. This Kentucky product draws inspiration from boxing, quoting Muhammad Ali, Apollo Creed, and Ivan Drago as inspiration. Heart is something that Ryan Tydlacka is not short on, and he is just growing into his body.
*Side note: If someone knows Danny Glover, help Ryan out with a meet and greet. The kid LOVES him
Hunter’s take: Jason, I’m going to address you by name even though it’s pretty obvious I’m critiquing your entry. Seems so much more official, no? Seriously, this was very well-written, grammatically solid, detailed and well-researched. All of those things are big positives and might even come in handy if you get to write for the site. I thought you had the total package going, as I was convinced through the first part of the piece there was a righteous kicker joke coming to zing me or some comedic twist sure to make my gut bust. Instead, there was very little humor of any kind, even the bad kind, and that’s where your piece lacks.
It can be tough to gauge just how ridiculous one should be in this competition, particularly in the first round where there is nothing to reference for comparison. I have to give you a little bit of a pass because of that, and your solid writing will probably get you through. However, if, in the future, you don’t add a little bit of the ridiculousness that makes this site…you know…this site, then going much further will be tough. Solid start for you, though.