Being a kicker has to be rough.
You don’t have a flashy job. You won’t break away on a 50-yard touchdown run nor will you intercept the ball in the end zone to prevent a game-winning Hail Mary. You’re more protected from hits than the quarterback. Extra points are considered good before they’re even kicked. No one clamors over which school a 5-star kicker (as if those exist) recruit will choose on Signing Day.
Like a Broadway stagehand, kickers usually only get attention if he trips and pulls the curtain down and ruins the show. If a kicker nails the game-winning field goal, the camera cuts to the coach or the quarterback or the running back who had been kneeling in silent prayer, as if they were the ones to score the final three points.
Which is why Notre Dame kicker Kyle Brindza deserves some credit.
Remember when Brindza missed twice against BYU, a game the Irish only one by three points? He was 1-3 on the day and fans were calling for his head.
But Brindza has delivered more often than not this season – missing only eight times for a respectable 74.2 percent accuracy rating. His 31 field goal attempts are second only to Ball State’s Steven Schott, who kicked 32. Brindza averages 1.92 field goals per game, good for fourth in the country, and accounts for 95 of Notre Dame’s points this season (that’s almost triple what second-place scorer Theo Riddick has).
To put it in perspective, Brindza averages more points a game (7.92) than USC’s standout receiver Marquis Lee (7.50) and South Carolina’s tailback Marcus Lattimore before the injury (7.33).
Brindza scored 16 of Notre Dame’s 22 points against USC. He kicked the game-winner against Purdue.
He made three crucial field goals against Oklahoma and Pitt, the latter of which accounted for Notre Dame’s only first-half points and another big kick in the first of three overtimes, and sealed a win late in the game against Michigan.
And he’s only a sophomore, whose number was called when senior Nick Tausch went down with a groin injury.
Only eight missed field goals by a young kicker the team turned to time and time again when it stalled in the red zone? That’s one of Notre Dame’s many gifts this year.
Previously on “12 Days of Notre Dame…”