At the moment, Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong can joke about the lack of a place kicker. Once fall camp starts, he probably won't be laughing unless something changes.
Nick Rose is gone after handling place-kicking duties and kickoffs, and former US Army All-American Nick Jordan opted to give up his final year of eligibility and move on from football. As a result, the Longhorns don't have a single player on campus who has attempted a field goal in a collegiate game.
The current competitors are sophomore Evan Moore and redshirt freshman Jon Coppens. Moore has better size at 6'3, hit 7-of-8 attempts as a senior in 2013, and hit a 53-yarder that year. However, both are still unproven and have struggled at times.
"Well, we have to find us a kicker and that's an issue right now," Strong said on Tuesday. "We have some guys that are lining up and they're kicking the ball, but we have to be more consistent."
While consistency was also a problem with Rose on field goals, the same was not true about his kickoffs -- the same leg that allowed Rose to hit an 80-yard field goal last summer during training also allowed him to consistently crush the ball out of the end zone. In fact, Rose finished No. 3 in the country last season in touchback percentage at 74.60 after holding the top spot in 2014, and usually demonstrated enough leg strength that he seemingly could have done so on every kickoff.
Because Rose struggled hitting a high percentage of his field goal, that often drew most of the focus, and few fans appreciated how good he was on kickoffs. In that regard, this season could represent an unpleasant awakening, as Strong has already told his kickoff unit that they're going to have to cover kicks in 2016.
Despite the presence of a lot of solid athletes, that was a problem in 2015 for Texas in a limited sample size, as the Longhorns ranked tied for No. 122 nationally in giving up 26 yards per kickoff return. In 2014, the 'Horns ranked dead last and weren't much better in the last year of Mack Brown's tenure, sitting at No. 115.
As much pressure as giving up field position more often would put on the Texas defense, not being able to find a place kicker reliable out to at least 40 yards would do even more damage by taking points off the board and allowing good field position.
So it seems that the 'Horns will have to continue the search for another option through the summer, though Strong was a bit incredulous about the possibility.
"I don't know who that would be because we have our guys here now," Strong said. "We didn't sign a kicker. We're going to generate one. Are we going to generate one somewhere?"
A reporter pointed out that punter Michael Dickson wasn't on campus last spring -- the Australian signed with the Longhorns during the spring out of the Prokick Australia academy, which has produced the last three Ray Guy award winners. The academy does produce some place kickers, but because most of the players have Australian Rules Football backgrounds, they tend to transition more easily into roles as punters.
"We generated him," Strong admitted. "Are we trying to generate a kicker now? (laughs) We're always looking for someone. If you find me a kicker, send him to me. I need him."
Consider that admission an all-points bulletin to find the Longhorns a place kicker or kickoff specialist. Preferably both.