Competition revs up kicking and punting games

 

Mississippi State kicker Jace Christmann, who made the team as a walk-on, hit three field goals in the Outback Bowl game against Iowa and did not miss an extra point all season long.

Mississippi State kicker Jace Christmann, who made the team as a walk-on, hit three field goals in the Outback Bowl game against Iowa and did not miss an extra point all season long. Photo by: Kelly Donoho/MSU Athletic Communications

 

 

 

By BEN PORTNOY 

 

[email protected] 

 

 

 

Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead is generally subdued on the practice field. 

 

Physically, he's not hard to spot. Moorhead's patented white MSU visor towers above even some of his players as the former quarterback stands roughly 6-foot-5. 

 

But during last Saturday's scrimmage he was rather fiery. 

 

Sophomore Scott Goodman lined up for a mock extra point following a 15-yard Alec Murphy touchdown run. 

 

Goodman swung his leg through but pushed the ball left, missing the mark. 

 

"You're a kickoff specialist and can't make an extra point?" Moorhead yelled. "Kick that again!" 

 

Goodman obliged, narrowly making the ensuing kick just inside the right upright. 

 

"Did he make it?" Moorhead posited to his players and coaches. 

 

"Yeah," echoed a voice somewhere along the field. 

 

"Good job!" Moorehead responded. 

 

As spring practices near their close, kicking and punting competitions are revving up. 

 

Redshirt junior Jace Christman should have the inside track to the kicking job. The one-time walk-on was named a Freshman All-American in 2017 and has made 24 of his 30 career field goal attempts -- including a 47-yarder against Louisiana Tech last season -- and 83-of-83 extra points. 

 

The one complicating factor for Christman is a DUI arrest that occurred at the end of February. MSU Athletics has said they are aware of the arrest and that discipline was being dealt with internally. 

 

Goodman and junior Jordan Lawless should factor into the competition as well. Goodman has flashed a strong leg as a kickoff specialist of late but his performance in Saturday's scrimmage was less than encouraging. 

 

Lawless enters the spring after finishing 6-for-6 on extra points in 2018, going 3-for-3 against both Arkansas and Stephen F. Austin. 

 

Special teams coordinator Joey Jones said the competition will come down to numbers. 

 

"We've got three guys that are in it that are really head-to-head," Jones said. "And we told them we're going to have a guy that does the best statistically is going to be our kicker. It's not much of a thinking thing." 

 

The punting competition is also decidedly unsettled. 

 

Incumbent starter junior Tucker Day appeared in all 13 games last season, averaging 39.4 yards per attempt. 

 

South Alabama graduate transfer Corliss Waitman should push Day for the job. Waitman played for two years under Jones when he was head coach in Mobile. An MSU Athletics staffer said Sunday that his arrival date in Starkville is dependent on when he enrolls. 

 

Senior Kody Schexnayder could also make inroads after attempting nine punts last season. 

 

The last name in play is junior Texas Tech transfer Reed Bowman, who was the backup punter and held field goals for the Red Raiders last season. 

 

It's uncertain whether he'll be eligible this season, but he impressed onlookers Saturday with the longest punt of the day -- a 51-yard boot from his own side of the field that drew oohs and ahs along the sideline. 

 

"You know what, I'll never apologize for bringing good players in here," Jones said. "Kids know they've got to compete for their jobs and best man is going to win." 

 

The MSU football team is back in action Saturday for the annual Maroon and White Spring Game. The event is slated to begin at 1 p.m. 

 

 

 

 

 

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