Kicking bad habits Vols’ goal
Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2012 7:00 pm
KNOXVILLE (AP) — With all the focus on running better and developing a tougher, more aggressive defense, Tennessee’s special teams quietly have had an up-and-down spring.
Very much like the 2011 season.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley says kicker Michael Palardy “looks like a different guy out there” this spring.
That’s good because Palardy battled inconsistency last year in 2011 while also sharing punting duties with Matt Darr. Palardy converted 9-of-14 field goals in 2011 but was just 3-of-7 from 40 yards and longer. He did convert a 52-yarder against Alabama that was the Vols’ longest since Jeff Hall kicked a 53-yarder in 1995.
“He’s making a lot of progress. He’s been money on kickoffs,” Dooley said. “It wasn’t just moving him up five (yards), he’s got a real confident approach. He adjusted some things. The biggest thing we are ironing out on our field goals is we’ve got a new snapper and holder, and so there’s a lot of nuances that affect a kick.”
In February, the NCAA moved kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35 hoping to generate more touchbacks to ensure better player safety. The new rule also places the ball at the 25 after touchbacks instead of the 20.
Only six of Palardy’s 43 kickoffs were touchbacks last season.
Now a junior, Palardy knows it’s time to produce like most expected him to when he signed with the Vols as one of the top kickers in the country coming out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida.
“I know coming into this year, being young, using age isn’t an excuse anymore,” Palardy said. “I have to come out here and prove to everyone and show them I can do it.”
Palardy has had his moments with the Vols. He executed an onside kick to himself against Cincinnati and completed a pass on a fake punt against Alabama for a first down. But an onside kick to start the second half against South Carolina trailing 7-3 didn’t work in what wound up a 14-3 loss.
Backup kicker Derrick Brodus is doing a “good job” this spring, according to Dooley. Brodus appeared in one game last season for the Vols in unusual fashion.
Against MTSU on Nov. 5, Brodus wasn’t dressed for the game and was at home an hour before kickoff. Palardy was out with an injury, and the second-string kicker was injured in warm-ups. Brodus got a police escort to Neyland Stadium where he made his only field-goal attempt, a 21-yarder, and connected on all three extra points.
Palardy and Darr combined for a net punting average of 34.4 yards last year, ranking Tennessee 104th out of 120 FBS teams. Darr punted 40 times with 10 downed inside the 20, while three went for more than 50 yards. Palardy had 14 punts and was mainly used when coaches wanted situational or directional kicking. Published in The Messenger 4.19.12