Lunchtime links: Texas Tech still looking for a kicker
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Only a few weeks ago, Matt Williams was watching Texas Tech games from the stadium and wondering where he and his friends would be heading for post-game parties.
But after winning a kicking contest during the Texas Tech's Sept. 20 game against Massachusetts with an impressive showing, Williams now could be kicking for the Red Raiders in their game Saturday at Kansas.
Talk about a wild few weeks for Williams. He attempted to become a walk-on kicker at Tarleton State but quit without appearing in a game.
He caught the attention of Tech coach Mike Leach when he drilled a 30-yard field goal in the in-game promotion, winning free rent for the month from a Lubbock apartment complex. But Williams has turned down that prize because it would have been a violation of NCAA rules, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Tech officials told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that Williams was granted a one-time exception to the NCAA transfer rule because he was neither recruited by nor ever on scholarship at Tarleton. When that information was found out earlier this week, Williams become immediately eligible. Tech officials received the confirmation in writing and cleared Williams on Monday.
His arrival comes after kickers Donnie Carona and Cory Fowler have slumped miserably in the last several games. Tech kickers have had seven kicks blocked so far this season. Leach said (not facetiously) he might consider going for two points after every touchdown because of his team's struggles with placements.
Tech special teams coach Clay Maguire told the Avalanche-Journal that either Carona or Williams will be kicking for the Red Raiders Saturday against Kansas, depending on how they perform at practice this week.
Kansas coach Mark Mangino chortled when he learned of Williams' emergence.
"Hey, in this profession, you gotta do what you gotta do," Mangino told the Kansas City Star. "If there are a couple of guys running around our stadium here that could cover (Texas Tech's Michael) Crabtree, we would like them to come down. I think that's great. That's vintage Mike Leach there."
Tech's kicking saga adds another layer of intrigue to what should be one of the most interesting games in the country on Saturday.
Until then, here are a few links from around the Big 12 to get you ready for Saturday.
- Texas' roster is dotted by many key players who have bounced back from subpar 2007 seasons, according to Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- Mad Mike DeArmond of the Kansas City Star's latest video leaves little doubt about when Colorado and Missouri will be playing on Saturday.
- The Kansas student newspaper has recommended two new options for a school chant at football games. The school has taken unprecedented steps to do away with an explicit chant that had been popular at games this season that was lifted from the movie "The Waterboy."
- Oklahoma State's much-maligned secondary has given itself a nickname "D-Block" to build camaraderie, the Oklahoman's Andrea Cohen writes. But that togetherness will be supremely tested Saturday by Texas quarterback Colt McCoy.
- Despite NFL talent analysts tripping over themselves to hype his draft standing, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford tells Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman that he's not thinking about declaring early for the NFL draft.
- John Mackovic of the La Quinta (Calif.) Desert Sun -- yes, that John Mackovic -- writes that Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy has caught his attention for one of the most underrated coaching jobs in college football this season. Mackovic writes that he advised Gundy to go back to calling his own plays after watching the Cowboys struggle offensively earlier in Gundy's coaching career.