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Archive for Friday, November 30, 2007

Kicker Wolfert has been Missouri’s Mr. Reliable

November 30, 2007

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— In the biggest game ever played by either school, Missouri led Kansas by six points before Lorenzo Williams' clinching sack in the end zone for a safety with 12 seconds to go.

The cushion was supplied by Jeff Wolfert's extremely accurate right leg. He connected on a pair of 43-yard field goals in the 36-28 victory that vaulted the Tigers to No. 1 for the first time since 1960, to continue a perfect two-year run in Big 12 Conference play.

"He's been an outstanding kicker for us, and he works very hard at it," quarterback Chase Daniel said. "He doesn't just sit around and do his own thing in practice. He's working every single day to get better."

It's an asset that's often overlooked in Missouri's overloaded offense.

The Tigers are among the highest-scoring teams in the country with a 42-point average and are the only school to score 30 points in every game. Daniel has a bevy of wide receivers to choose from, topped by the tight end tandem of Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman, and running back Tony Temple is on his game after struggles with an ankle injury earlier in the year.

When they fall short of the end zone, there's always Wolfert. He's made an astounding 87 consecutive extra points and field goals in conference games the last two seasons.

"It's in the back of my head, but I try not to think about it too much because I don't want to jinx it," Wolfert said. "I'm just thinking about the snap and the hold, and really just keeping my head down, because I know if I keep my head down good things are going to happen."

Overall in two seasons, Wolfert is 35-for-41 on field goal attempts with a long of 48 yards this year and 54 yards in 2006. He had a run of 59 consecutive successful field goals and extra points in all games before missing a 49-yard field goal attempt against Illinois in the season opener.

Wolfert's background as a high school soccer player aids in kicking. His background in competitive diving helps him block out the distractions. He was a scholarship diver at Missouri, competing at 10 meters, before making the football team as a walk-on in 2005.

He also enjoys the daredevil aspect of diving off cliffs at the Lake of the Ozarks.

"Just being an athlete and being in a whole bunch of competitions, you've got to be able to focus and eliminate the distractions," Wolfert said. "I feel like that's helped me with field goal kicking and being able to perform under pressure."

With a No. 1 ranking, Missouri's first Big 12 North title and a berth in the conference championship game against No. 9 Oklahoma on Saturday night in San Antonio, Texas, at stake, there was plenty of pressure against Kansas.

Not for this guy.

"As we win, every game is important, so every kick is important," Wolfert said. "I'm just happy it's turned out the way it has."

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