Rising sophomore punter Jeff Lockemade UCLA fans forget former All-Pac-10 selection Aaron Perezlast season. The lefty handled kickoffs and punts, averaging nearly 67 yards on kickoffs (20 touchbacks in 65 attempts) and almost 44 yards on punts (his season-long was a monstrous boot of 81 at Arizona). He was the only freshman to be named a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, which is given yearly to the nation's best punter. I caught up with him after the Bruins' practice on Tuesday to talk about last season, what he wants to improve and what his goals are next fall.
Blair Angulo: You stepped right in last season and filled in nicely for Aaron Perez. How would you classify your first season?UCLA Athletics
Jeff Locke: I think in the beginning of the season I started out pretty strong. But I was disappointed with the way I finished the season. There were some things I could have done a lot better toward the end. I've got a lot to work on still.
Angulo: What specifically do you need to work on?
Locke: A lot of it is limiting my reps in practice, not this practice but when I'm warming up with myself on the sideline. I need to keep my leg healthy. And a lot of it is directional punting -- I need to be more consistent and can't have bad punts in games anymore.
Angulo: You and place kicker Kai Forbath form one of the best kicking tandems in the nation. What's the pairing like?
Locke: We like to feed off each other. I can watch Kai kick and know what he's doing wrong and he can watch me kick and tell me exactly what I'm doing wrong. We like to compete. I challenge him on field goals and he challenges me in punting. It's a good competition.
Angulo: When other players -- linebackers, receivers, linemen -- come out here for spring practice they talk about technique and getting used to tackling, getting faster, that sort of thing. What do kickers work on during this time?
Locke: A lot of the small details. For punting, I'm looking at my drop and looking at my steps to make sure that they're short. Kai works on making sure his eyes stay low to the ground when he kicks. It's really small details that you can see in film when you go in and look at it after practice.
Angulo: What would make next season a successful one for you? What kind of averages are you looking for?
Locke: I would love to average over 45 yards per punt, but the biggest thing I want to do is have my net average at over 40 or 41 yards. That's the biggest thing that helps the team.