ATK Roundup: Punters and Kickers
We’ve taken a look at the quarterbacks and runningbacks, so we’re going to change it up a little bit and check out the specialists from both teams:
Jamie Keehn – JR – Punter
Keehn stepped into Aussie mate Brad Wing’s cleats in 2013 after making his debut filling in for Wing in the Tigers Chick Fil – A Bowl 2012 season finale. The 25 year old junior holds one of the most interesting backgrounds in college football, having never played a down of (American) football until 2012. Keehn did however excel in a number of other sports while growing up in Australia, winning the HS national title in javelin and rowing, while also dabbling in rugby and power lifting (likely one of the only FBS punters to hold that distinction).
Keehn had a somewhat up and down early 2013, however a midseason adjustment (dropping his leadup from 2 steps to 1) seemed to make the difference and the junior was able to get back on track. He especially excelled in the (appropriately named) Outback Bowl, continuously flipping the field for the Tigers in their 21-14 win over Iowa. Keehn averaged 47 yards per punt on 10 punts, including four punts of over 50 yards and a number of kicks that pinned the Hawkeyes close to their end zone. If the Tigers next matchup against a Big Ten foe is anything like the last, Keehn could be called upon again to be a big contributor.
Colby Delahoussaye – RS SO – Kicker
Delahoussaye, who started as a redshirt freshman in 2013, had one of the best seasons for a rookie LSU kicker in school history. Delahoussaye finished the year 13-14 on field goals and 56 of 57 on extra points, stepping in for decorated Tiger kicker Drew Alleman, who started in Baton Rouge for two years and finished on the 2012 All-SEC Second Team. Dalahoussaye’s 56 PAT’s rank 3rd on LSU’s single season record book, and the 95 total points were good for second on the team in 2013 only trailing runningback Jeremy Hill.
Look for Delahoussaye to potentially play another big role against the Badgers, who finished 3rd in the country in opponent red zone touchdown percentage. Wisconsin’s notoriously stingy defense allowed opponents to score a touchdown on just 42 percent of their red zone possessions in 2013, giving up just 25 touchdowns overall.
What they’re saying: “Jamie said he doesn’t want to completely lose the accent because it helps him get all the girls.”
– Former LSU Kicker Alleman on Keehn retaining his Australian accent throughout his time in Baton Rouge (as told to NOLA.com)
Drew Meyer – RS JR – Punter
While Meyer may not have as big of a leg as Keehn, he has still been a solid contributor on special teams for the Badgers. The 6’3″, 185 pound redshirt junior, who grew up just an hour east from Madison in Hartland, WI, was the 13th ranked punter in the country coming out of high school. He took over the starting job in 2012 after redshirting in 2011.
Meyer was able to pin opponents inside the 20 on roughly 35% of his kicks, while the Badgers’ efficient offense resulted in just 53 total punts in 13 games. Only Big Ten runner-up Ohio State finished 2013 with fewer punts per game.
Jack Russell – JR; Rafael Gaglianone – FR – Kicker
Russell took over for a shaky Kyle French in 2013, connecting on 9 of 13 field goals and a perfect 34 of 34 PAT’s, including a career long 48 yarder in the Badgers’ close loss to Penn State on November 30th. It was the junior’s first extended action after seeing limited duty in 2012, and he’ll look to build on that success in 2014.
Russell will however face stiff competition this season, as incoming freshman Rafael Gaglianone (the 11th ranked kicker in the class of 2014 according to ESPN) joins the Badgers. Originally an avid surfer from Sao Paulo, Brazil (and heading to Madison via Baylor High School in Chattanooga, TN), Gaglianone had one of the strongest legs in high school football in 2013, with nearly 60 yard range. Gaglianone also took home the Mr. Tennessee Football award for best kicker in the state. While he may not be the Badgers starter at place kicker on August 30th, Gaglianone’s strong leg (he placed 42 of 44 kickoffs in the endzone last season and dropped 90 into the endzone in 2012) could enable him to handle kickoff duties right away.
What they’re saying: “Rafael has a D1 leg, the ball jumps off his foot faster than almost anyone in the country.” Kohls Football Kicking Camp
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4. Bleacher Report (again)