It comes down to a field goal in Fiesta Bowl
GLENDALE — If you’ve watched any college football this season, chances
are you walked away from a game shaking your head about how many
times an outcome is placed upon a kicker — and how many times that
kicker failed to deliver in the clutch.
Monday night’s Fiesta Bowl between Stanford and Oklahoma State fell
into that category. A thrilling game that came down to field goal
kicking…one kicker delivered and the other did not.
After Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle scored on a 4-yard touchdown run
with 2:35 left tied the game at 38-38, Stanford had plenty of time to
navigate down the field and win the game. Oh yeah, did I mention
they’ve got the best quarterback in the nation in Andrew Luck?
Luck was spectacular on the night, throwing for 347 yards and 2 scores,
while only 4 of his passes were incomplete. On the Cardinal’s last
possession in regulation, Luck was 5-for-5 for 50 yards. His 25-yard
completion to Jeremy Stewart put Stanford on the doorstep of their 2nd
consecutive BCS bowl victory.
But then something interesting happened. Stanford got conservative.
Stepfan Taylor ran the ball twice up the middle for 8 yards, giving the
Cardinal the ball at the OSU 17-yard line with :03 left on the clock.
Jordan Williamson, Stanford’s kicker, who had already missed from 41
yards in the first quarter, trotted onto the field.
Williamson had made 12 of 15 attempts on the season, the ball was in
the middle of the field, and it was only a 35-yarder. It’s a chip shot,
Williamson missed the kick and the game went to overtime, where he
missed a 43-yarder on Stanford’s only possession in the extra period.
His counterpart, Quinn Sharp nailed a 22-yarder, lifting the Cowboys to
their first-ever BCS bowl win.
When will college coaches learn? THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A CHIP
SHOT FOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL KICKERS!
Stanford coach David Shaw said as much in his postgame press
conference. “We cannot settle for field goals against a good football
team. Whether you make them or miss them, against a good team is
inconsequential,” he said. “Good teams score touchdowns. If you kick
the field goal, now you are back behind the eight ball.”
Sure, Shaw’s comments sound gutsy and all, but he had the chance just
moments before to put them into practice and didn’t. Again, Stanford
had the ball with a first and ten at the OSU 25-yard line with :52 left and
a timeout in their pocket. Again, they have Andrew Luck. But Shaw
opted for the field goal.
Pac-12 field goal kickers combined to make 148 out of 206 field goal
attempts this season. That’s a 71.8% success rate. After watching a ton
of football from the conference, I’m surprised the number was that high.
If I’m David Shaw, I’d feel a lot more confident pinning my hopes to an
All-American quarterback than a redshirt freshman kicker. Try to score
the touchdown with aggressive play-calling on your first three downs,
and if your team doesn’t punch it in, then bring in the kicker.
I know, hindsight is 20/20. But more college coaches need to have the
foresight not to rely on unreliable kickers in pressure situations.