The ball leaned sideways off the foot of Texas Longhorns kicker Mitchell Becker during the Orange and White game on Saturday, ultimately sailing well left from 46 yards and giving visual evidence of the unfortunate reality head coach Charlie Strong bluntly addressed days before -- after the departure of Nick Rose, the Longhorns don't yet have a capable place kicker.
The former punter took the only attempt of the day for Texas, a relatively surprising development considering that he wasn't even thought to be in the race for the job.
After expressing a need to "generate" a kicker for the 2016 season during spring practice, Strong took a bit softer and more hopeful tack during the Big 12 teleconference on Monday.
"We have guys that are on the team right now," Strong said. "It's just a matter of them stepping up and making sure they are accurate and kicking the ball. We didn't rush them the whole spring, so just step up there and kick the football and put it where it needs to be. The guys have enough leg strength and all that, it's more mental than anything. We just have to continue to let those guys battle it out."
Of course, the mental part is often the most important for kickers, with leg strength occupying a distant second place. It is unquestionably a base requirement, but there's a reason why Justin Tucker is nailing game-winning kicks in the NFL and Rose struggled to find consistency at Texas despite possessing a stronger leg.
After the spring game, Strong said that he thought Becker was rushing himself, a problem that has also been apparent in practice. But if the kickers can't handle the pressure of kicking in practice or a scrimmage, then how are they going to handle doing it in front of so many fans?
Anyone know a kicker whisperer? Maybe Strong needs to put in a call to Tucker.
Right now, the Texas head coach doesn't even have particularly high expectations -- he just wants to find someone who can hit consistently from 35 yards and in.
Moving forward, the big question for the summer is whether Strong and special teams coach Jeff Traylor will continue searching for alternatives around the country and possibly even overseas at the Pro Kick Australia academy that produced starting punter Michael Dickson last year.
While Strong sounded a slightly different tune on Monday than he did on Saturday (and during spring practice), his final comment provides some evidence to support the conclusion that he and his staff will continue evaluating every available option. Those options include all-state Arlington kicker Chris Naggar, who was recently in contact with Traylor, has been accepted to Texas, and called it his dream school.
"When we come back there will be some guys given opportunities when they walk in," Strong said.
Until there's a development on that front, Becker will continue to battle Moore and Coppens as the leader in a competition that Strong said does not currently have a No. 1 option and may soon include another competitor or two.
And it seems fair to say that Texas fans are still obligated by Strong's command to find him a kicker.
"I need one," Strong said after the spring game. "You have to get me one somehow."
So, if you spot a kicker in the wild, please capture humanely and send to:
Charlie Strong c/o Texas football
2012 Robert Dedman Dr.
Austin, TX 78712