Arizona Football

Inconsistent UA kickers looking to improve

2013-10-07T00:00:00Z 2013-11-25T20:13:11Z Inconsistent UA kickers looking to improveBy Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

If Wildcats kicker Jake Smith and punter Drew Riggleman were a pair of golfers on the PGA Tour, playing a four-day tournament on a par-72 golf course, their scores would look something like this: 75-69-70-75.

Consistency — as you see — hasn’t been the Arizona duo’s greatest strength.

“There’s definitely been a lot of good, but there’s also been some bad,” Riggleman said.

Added Smith: “We’ve had our ups and downs. As a group, I don’t think we’re happy with where we’re at. But at the same time, everything we’ve done poorly is fixable and correctable and that’s important.”

It’s not a shocker that consistency has been an issue for the UA special teams unit. Riggleman, a walk-on from Sahuaro High School, is seeing his first college game action of his career. Smith, a transfer from Syracuse and Youngstown State, is playing in games for the first time since 2010.

“I think we’re still working up to what we can be,” Smith said. “We still have to improve; we have to get better.”

On the season, Smith is 4 for 6 on field goals with a long of 41. He’s 18 for 19 on extra-point attempts. On kickoffs, he’s averaging 62.8 yards and has recorded a touchback on half of his kicks.

Riggleman, through four games, is averaging 36.5 yards per punt with one touchback on 15 punts. He’s landed six inside the 20-yard line.

Here’s a game-by-game look at the up-and-down kicking game for the Cats (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12), who play at USC (3-2, 0-2) Thursday.

NAU

Smith’s stats: 0 for 1 on field goals; 5 for 5 on extra points. Averaged 64.7 yards on six kickoffs with four touchbacks.

Riggleman’s stats: Averaged 33 yards on four punts, landing two inside the 20. His long was 55 yards, but he also had punts of 15 and 18 yards.

The lowdown: The game was extra meaningful for Riggleman, who grew up going to UA football, basketball and softball games with his grandpa, who had season tickets for all three sports. Against NAU, Riggleman’s parents, brother, sister, brother-in-law, aunt, uncle and grandparents were all in the stands. Nerves played a factor for the sophomore, who realized a lifelong dream by playing for the UA at Arizona Stadium.

Quotable: “There was so much adrenaline running through me for that game. I’ve dreamed about it for so long and finally being able to do it was unreal.” — Riggleman

UNLV

Smith’s stats: 3 for 4 on field goals; 7 for 7 on extra points. Averaged 63.3 yards on 11 kickoffs with five touchbacks.

Riggleman’s stats: Punted once for 44 yards for a touchback.

The lowdown: Smith was named the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against the Rebels. He set a school record for single-game points (16) for a kicker. His field goal makes were from 41, 29 and 30 yards. His miss was from 39 yards in the second quarter.

Quotable: “Jake’s had some really good games like the one against UNLV and I feed off that. We have a real good relationship and there are certain things we don’t see when we’re kicking, but we’ll help each other out when we come back to the sideline.”

— Riggleman

UTSA

Smith’s stats: 1 for 1 on field goals; 5 for 5 on extra points. Averaged 65 yards on seven kickoffs with five touchbacks.

Riggleman’s stats: Averaged 45.8 yards on four punts, landing three inside the 20. His long went for 54 yards.

The lowdown: Smith’s only field goal attempt came from 23 yards and it was pure. It was a business-like performance for both kickers. Neither was spectacular against the Roadrunners, but they didn’t have to be. Riggleman’s lone blemish was a 27-yard punt in the third quarter.

Quotable: “The first game, I had a couple of short punts I wish I could have back. I rebounded against UNLV and UTSA and had a couple of good games.”

— Riggleman.

Washington

Smith’s stats: The senior didn’t attempt a field goal. He was 1 for 2 on extra points and averaged 54.5 yards on four kickoffs with no touchbacks.

Riggleman’s stats: Averaged 31.5 yards on six punts, landing one inside the 20. His long was 44 yards.

The lowdown: Both Smith and Riggleman struggled in the wet and windy conditions in Seattle. Smith missed his first extra-point attempt of the season on the UA’s first touchdown. He also failed to reach the end zone on any of his kickoffs for the first time this year. Riggleman had a 26-yard punt in the first quarter and a 14-yard punt in the second. He wasn’t called on in the second half.

Quotable: “It was tough to play in those conditions. The wind was swirling the whole game. I’ve played in snowstorms before and I’d rather play in that. We practiced for it, but it’s tough to prepare for those conditions. With everything going on, it wasn’t perfect for the specialists.”

— Smith

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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