clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Oklahoma Sooners Football: Austin Seibert Is Making Us All Nervous

New, 6 comments

After nearly missing an extra point during OU’s victory over Kansas State, what’s next for the multitalented Sooners kicker?

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

You wouldn’t know it to look at his stat line, but Austin Seibert almost had another bad day against Kansas State.

After Oklahoma dialed up a trick play and Joe Mixon found Dede Westbrook for a 26-yard score, Seibert lined up for a routine extra point to extend the lead to 21-7—except he proceeded to push the ball wide right, no good.

But! The Sooners got bailed out by a K-State offside penalty, and Seibert put the second kick through (barely).

OU called his number again as the first half wound down, and he kicked a 34-yard attempt from the right hash. It was hard to tell on TV whether he’d even made it or not, it hugged the left upright so closely—but in the end the officials raised their arms and gave Seibert the perfect day he probably didn’t deserve.

Performances like that are enough to give Sooners fans pause, because most of us remember well when another OU kicker, with a reputation for clutch, got too far into his own head and cost the Sooners the last K-State game played in Norman. That game was the start of a deadly downward spiral for a certain Michael Hunnicutt, whose demise mirrored that of the OU program generally during the disastrous 2014 season. Before the year, Hunnicutt looked like a kid with NFL potential. The fans were calling him Moneycutt because he was just so, you know, money.

Hunnicutt only missed five field goals that year, but they always seemed to come at bad times and certainly cost the team against the Wildcats. In 2013, he hit nearly 90% of his tries. The next year that went all the way down to 72%.

I don’t mean to raise the specter of kickers past, but Seibert vs. Hunnicutt, at their best, is no contest. Hunnicutt was every college coach’s dream, a four-year starter that you never worry about—until, one day, he just wasn’t anymore. Seibert is merely a college coach’s convenience. He’s got a strong leg and can do all the kicking jobs so you can use other scholarships on someone else. But his field goal percentage so far this year, 66.6%, is worse than anything Hunnicutt ever posted, including during his frustrating senior year.

Such spotty performances have ramifications that go far beyond the OU kicking game. Bob Stoops didn’t try to hide the fact that his playcalling in OU’s season-opening Houston loss was influenced by Seibert’s botched, stop-and-start attempt that led to the infamous kick-six.

“He just hit a bad ball,” Stoops said after the loss, “and then he hit a horrible punt and then the next drive or two we had a fifty yard field goal and I went for it on fourth down because I didn’t feel he was in any kind of confidence or shape to go for it.”

Translation: I had to alter my whole game plan because I didn’t trust the guy.

Over the course of the season, these things make a difference. OU’s opponents are a perfect 10-for-10 on field goal tries this year, so they’re not leaving those points on the field. And the Sooners are just 1-for-5 on 4th-down tries this season, picking up their first against Kansas State, meaning that Seibert may look like the lesser of two evils as the team moves forward. Sooner or later, a game could swing on that kind of decision.

At the end of the day, Seibert is one of the best punters in the nation, and his kickoffs are reliably good. There’s no indication that he’s about to have a Hunnicutt-style meltdown, and his percentage will probably pick up by the end of the season. Any problems he’s having with field goals, in other words, are pretty much worth the trouble for a guy who can do so many things so well.

Right now, it looks like he’s just overcompensating a little—pushing kicks too far to the right from the left hash, and too far to the left from the right one. That’s certainly what happened when he clanked a ball off the right upright from the left hash to end the first OU drive against Ohio State.

That’s not exactly a complicated fix, and we’ll see if another week of practice can straighten Seibert out. Seibert’s not much different from your average #CollegeKicker, but he’ll need to raise his game if the Sooners want to finish strong and take the conference.