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Monday Rewind: Louisiana Tech
Lost in the craziness of Saturday's 52-yard game-winning field goal by KU sophomore Matthew Wyman and the wild celebration that followed it was an important aspect of the game that was just as critical to the win as Wyman's kick.
No, it wasn't junior tailback Tony Pierson's 29-yard catch that set up the field goal or the back-to-back passes that junior quarterback Jake Heaps put right on the money that covered the final 37 yards of the drive. Heck, it wasn't even senior running back James Sims going into beast mode and running like the James Sims of 2012 that kick-started the drive in the first place. All of those plays — each of which were huge — got the credit they deserved from the Jayhawks, the coaching staff, the media and even the fans following the victory.
The one that did not was one that rarely does — the snap and the hold.
Forget about the stakes for a minute. We all know what was on the line when KU coach Charlie Weis called timeout with 2 seconds left and sent the field goal team onto the field to try to win it. The situation itself obviously added pressure to everyone on the field, not just Wyman. And because of that, the kick would have been tough enough even from 20 yards closer.
But when you're talking about a 52-yarder, the margin for error on every aspect of the play shrinks dramatically. Had the snap not been perfect and the hold not impeccable, Wyman would have had a much tougher time becoming the hero. So give credit to long snapper Reilly Jeffers and holder Blake Jablonski for doing their jobs to perfection.
I'm sure there are those out there who would say that these guys shouldn't be celebrated just for doing their jobs and I understand that. But these are not professionals. They're still kids. Former walk-ons, no less. And they did their jobs in damn fine fashion and that led to something that KU has not had the chance to enjoy much of during the past four or five years.
I'll admit it. I barely even thought about these two guys during the few hours following the game. There were too many other guys to talk to and too many things to write about. Here's a quick recap: Jayhawks move to 2-1; Streak of 22 straight losses to FBS opponents is snapped; KU finishes non-conference schedule with winning record; Defense comes up huge again; Smiles return to team's postgame; Kansas victorious for just the 8th time since Mark Mangino left town. I could go on and on, but I think you get it.
The reason for bringing all of this up is to tell you that I had to go back and watch the film of the snap and hold myself just to see it. Obviously, since Wyman drilled the kick, I figured things went well, but I wanted to see how well. It was better than I expected.
It's clear that Jeffers was trying to be perfect with the snap because the ball did not set any speed records on its way back to Jablonski. But it was right on the money and it almost looked as if Jeffers snapped it in a way that made the snap and hold become one motion — I'm guessing that's what you want. Jablonski did not have to move left or right to catch the snap and it was soft enough that he had no trouble handling it. He simply leaned forward, put it down and then joined the celebration.
These plays get taken for granted so often and this was such a big moment for this KU team that I thought the efforts made by Jeffers and Jablonski were worthy of a little extra attention.
I realize the Jayhawks did not win the Big 12 with this kick and, based on what unfolded during the four quarters that came before it, it's quite evident this team still has a lot of work to do if it wants to reach the point of being consistently competitive in the conference. But having guys like this deliver in moments like that, to me, is just more proof of the discipline and attention to detail that are starting to become staples of the KU football program again.
At some point, just like they did on Saturday, those little details are going to start mattering more and more.