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Archive for Thursday, October 25, 2007

Senior kicker in the zone

Webb eyeing KU scoring record

October 25, 2007

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Jayhawks up against A&M rushing attack

The Jayhawk football team travels to College Station this weekend to face off against Texas A&M. Enlarge video

What's crazier? The fact that Kansas University football kicker Scott Webb stutter-stepped and still managed to drill a 48-yard field goal, or the fact that he tries dozens of those kicks in practice every day?

Chalk up a minor victory for the prepared. Webb, the reigning Big 12 special-teams player of the week, nailed that 48-yarder at Colorado on Saturday despite a high snap destroying his timing, causing him to stop halfway through his approach, refocus, step once and desperately swing at the ball.

"It was good from 52," special-teams coordinator Louie Matsakis marveled.

Webb shrugged off the accomplishment, instead calling the recovery of holder Kyle Tucker "one of the more athletic plays you saw all day."

Besides, Webb says his practice routine makes a 48-yard stop-and-start a piece of cake. Every day, KU's kickers warm up by booting footballs without a step, and then with a single step.

"It depends on the day," Webb said, "but messing around, I've hit 50-yarders like that."

A national television audience now believes him.

What makes Webb's feat even neater is remembering where the Tulsa, Okla., native has come from.

In 2004, Webb was a red-shirt freshman in charge of extra points and the chip-shot field goals for the 4-7 Jayhawks, while former KU kicker Johnny Beck handled the long-range stuff.

Now a senior, Webb gives Beck's powerful leg a run for its money. And Webb's accuracy - in his career, he's hit 97 percent of his extra points and 74 percent of his field goals - compares favorably with about every kicker in school history.

"He is so much stronger now than he was when he came in as a freshman," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "He works at his fundamentals. I think earlier in his career, he'd get rattled. He's really matured. You can't bother him now. You can't rattle his cage. He's poised and confident in what he's doing."

As a senior, Webb's hitting his peak. He's converted all 38 of his point-afters and missed just one of 12 field goal attempts - a 45-yard kick that sailed wide right against Toledo.

The 71 points Webb has scored by himself in 2007 matches what KU's opponents have scored all season. It's also put Webb just 52 points away from topping Dan Eichloff's record for career scoring. Webb will have six or seven games to move closer, and he might give it a run.

"I wouldn't say it was a goal," said Webb, who will earn his sports management degree in December. "If it happened, it'd be a cool thing to tell my kids or grandkids someday. But I'm not thinking about that right now."

Nope, Webb is enjoying the season - and offseason (it's the same for kickers). The annual schedule for Webb involves a lot more work when games aren't going on. That's when Webb muscled up, worked on his technique and fundamentals and developed the explosion needed for, uhh, one-step 48-yarders. You know, in case it comes up.

Once the fall rolls around, it's a daily ritual of staying in the zone. Honestly, there's not a ton of in-season work to do.

"In the season, you know what you're doing and you do it," said Matsakis, a former college kicker himself. "You go out and make sure you're warmed up, hit a few balls."

And that's about it.

Which gives Webb's development an added perspective, because it was four offseasons in the making. His longest field goal as a freshman was 29 yards, and he's now developed into one of the Big 12's strongest legs.

All the while, he's kept the accuracy that's defined what's become a solid college career.

"Scott Webb," Mangino said, "right now is probably kicking the ball as well as anybody in the country."

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