Archive for Friday, September 27, 2002

KU’s Beck boasts BIGXLEG

Kicker seeks more consistency with chip shots, PATs

September 27, 2002


Johnny Beck has a big-time leg.

Don't believe it? Just check out the vanity license plate on the Kansas University kicker's Isuzu Trooper, which reads "BIGXLEG."

The sophomore has few problems with long field goals or clutch situations. It's the chip shots that are causing the sophomore some problems.

"There's no excuse for Johnny missing extra points," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "He won't give you any, and neither will I."

Beck made 14 of 20 field-goal attempts as a freshman last season, including 9-of-12 from 40 yards or more, and made 16 of 17 extra-point attempts. That lone missed point-after try was blocked.

Those numbers made him a preseason candidate for the Groza Award this fall. He missed a 32-yard field goal in the second week of the season at UNLV, however, and has missed one extra-point attempt in each of the last two games.

Those misfires, combined with his vanity plate, led to Beck being mocked this week in KU's student newspaper.

"I'm used to taking criticism," Beck said. "It doesn't pump me up, and it doesn't bother me. The good ones can handle adversity and learn to take criticism. Right now I'm facing some adversity, and I think I'm doing a good job of getting through it."

Beck is 5-of-6 on field-goal attempts this year and has made four in a row since his miss at Las Vegas. He has made eight of 10 extra-point attempts.

"At least we haven't lost by one yet," Beck said with a laugh. "You can't get all (mad) about it. You can't rage off the field and throw your helmet. You have to look at it like, 'What the hell just happened?'

"I had that problem last year on short field goals. I'd try to kick them out of the stadium. I think I've adjusted."

Beck's strength has been his knack for booming long kicks, but Mangino has been reluctant to let the sophomore try any. Concerned about field position with a defense that has allowed an average of 34.8 points per game, Mangino opted to punt rather than try a 49-yard field goal in the season opener at Iowa State and also passed on a 52-yarder the next week at UNLV.

Beck's longest attempt this season was a 37-yarder, which he made, against Southwest Missouri State.

Beck, for the record, made 10 of 12 field goals of 50 yards or more at Kansas City Piper High and made both his attempts of 50 yards or more including a 59-yarder last season.

He also booted a 37-yard game winner in double overtime at Texas Tech. It was, you might say, big-time.

"I'm confident when I go out there," he said, "and I think that's good that they can count on me."

The sophomore said his nomination for the Groza Award has been a bit of a distraction.

"It does add a lot of pressure because you look at what other kickers are doing and try to match it," he said. "That can throw you off your game, and you can't let that happen."

In addition to his extra-point yips, Beck lost his job, temporarily, on the kickoff team.

"We have a certain kickoff coverage set up where it has to be on the left side of the field," said Beck, who was replaced by Curtis Ansel before regaining his role. "I wasn't getting the job done. That was all my fault, but we got things straightened out."

The Jayhawks remain confident that Beck will live up to his preseason billing in the final eight games of the season.

"It looks easy and routine, but it's not," Mangino said. "He'll be fine. I have no worries about Johnny. Before it's all said and done, he'll be excellent for us."

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