Monday, August 15, 2011
They're still not kicking it at UCLA
By Peter Yoon
UCLA kickers continued to struggle in the post-Kai Forbath era, with walk-on Joe Roberts botching several kickoffs that left coach Rick Neuheisel fuming Monday during a special teams drill.
"Do I need to go to the junior colleges to find someone who can kick the ball down there?" Neuheisel screamed after Roberts shanked back-to-back kickoffs.
Roberts and Kip Smith have not looked good on field goal attempts all spring and the struggles seem to have spilled over to kickoffs. On Saturday, Smith smother hooked a couple of kickoffs.
Punter Jeff Locke normally handles the kickoff duties, but he is still not at 100 percent after offseason hip surgery. Locke is also an option for field goals once he gets healthy, but Neuheisel hinted that he may, in fact, be looking elsewhere for a kicker given the struggles of Smith and Roberts so far.
"We’re exploring every option we’ve got," Neuheisel said. "We’re looking and trying to make sure these guys understand that they’ve got a golden opportunity to take over a great position—a position that’s been rich with tradition here at UCLA--but the expectations are going to be large and you have to have shoulders big enough to handle that."
Smith did not do any kicking during Monday morning's practice, but Neuheisel said he would continue to put both kickers in pressure situations to see if one of them emerges.
"We’ll continue to create live opportunities and chances to show that they are capable," he said. "We want to create as much competition as we can."