By LEE ADAMS
This week started off on a bad note for the Mississippi State Bulldog kickers, as they did not perform well during the first day of live kicking on Monday. However, that bad start didn’t sway head coach Dan Mullen’s confidence in senior kicker Derek DePasquale or the other kickers.
“They are going to be alright and are going to be okay, but they were not very good (Monday),” said Mullen during Monday’s Media Day. “First day of live kicking was terrible, but Derek (DePasquale) has been in big games for us and made big kicks, so I feel comfortable with him.”
DePasquale, who currently holds the school’s record for field goal accuracy, knows exactly what caused the first day to be a bad one for the kicking team.
“Everyone’s tempo was off,” said DePasquale. “I rushed myself and my timing was thrown off, but I’ll calm down and I’ll start being my normal self again.”
Another reason for the kickers’ mistakes on Monday could be something as simple as seeing a live rush coming at them for the first time this camp.
“It’s easy when I have no one rushing me and I can think about everything and go through it,” said DePasquale. “When you have Josh Boyd and Fletcher Cox coming right at you, there’s not much time to think. so the big thing is to watch film and learn from that.”
DePasquale will look at the film to determine what his main problem is so he can fix it.
“I’ll go back and watch film and see if my first step is too long or if I was going too fast,” said DePasquale. “I’ll make the little corrections on what I’m doing.”
Mullen has seen what DePasquale’s problem was and thinks it’s taken care of.
“He was really off balance but I think we got that fixed,” said Mullen. “When you have a guy who has kicked in games and they have a bad day, they can see they’re off balance and then can tweak it.”
DePasquale’s balance issue isn’t really an issue with Mullen.
“It’s something we can coach up,” said Mullen. “It’s a real quick tweak and change, but I don’t get into a panic about Derek. He’ll get the job done and be ready to play.”
During Thursday morning’s practice, Mullen had to cut some of the kicking drills as practice was moved into the Palmiero Center, but they did get in some extra point attempts.
“We did PAT field goals a lot today and we were good. I think we missed one in the whole practice,” said Mullen during Thursday morning’s meeting with the press. “They have improved, but it’s just about getting back into the rhythm of the season.”
DePasquale thinks kickoffs will be the kickers’ biggest strength this season, but has noticed how hard all the guys are working.
“Kickoffs are going to be a big strength this year,” said DePasquale. “Brian Egan is looking really good and he has a really strong leg. Baker (Swedenburg) is really coming around and his punts have looked really good with really good distance and hang time.”
A position directly related to DePasquale is the holder during field goals. Aaron Feld and Chris Cameron handled that duty last season, but while new guys are battling for the position this season, he is leaning more towards Baker Swedenburg.
“Baker has been holding for me a lot,” said DePasquale. “He’s holding just as well as they (Feld, Cameron) did, so I’m comfortable with him.”
Even though DePasquale is comfortable with Swedenburg, making the change is not an easy one.
“It’s tough, I miss Aaron Feld and Chris Cameron,” said DePasquale. “We have two new guys this year in (Winston) Chapman and Reed Gordon and they’re holding their own right now. They’re young and it’s going to be interesting to see how they do in games.”
DePasquale is getting to know his new teammates but getting to where they all trust each other is the main goal.
“It’s like having two new friends, and you’re just getting to know them,” said DePasquale. “Hopefully we’ll have a spend the night party or a sleep over to get to the sense of trust. That trust is that they are going to do their job and I’m going to do mine.”
DePasquale is 20-24 on field goal attempts during his career but is sure to add to that total in 2011.