The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

August 8, 2012

Pressure part of life for kickers

MORGANTOWN — In hindsight, it sounds strange, the thoughts Tyler Bitancurt had going into January’s Orange Bowl meeting with Clemson.

He found himself on edge, worried, wondering if in the end this game that would finish up 70-33 would fall on his shoulders or, to be more correct, on his toes.

“If you remember the bowl season, almost every game was coming down to the kicker,” the West Virginia University placekicker said Tuesday morning at the Puskar Center. “Going into the Orange Bowl, I had the pressure of a big-time bowl game, going against a big-time team in Clemson and looking like it might come down to having to kick a game-winner.”

Not that he hadn’t had experience in that area. He wrote his name into WVU football lore when he beat arch-rival Pitt with a last-second field goal as a sophomore, gaining a measure of revenge for the upset they sprang on the Mountaineers a couple of seasons earlier to keep them out of a national championship game.

And then last year WVU got into the Orange Bowl when Bitancurt kicked a 28-yard field goal as time expired to beat South Florida, 30-27.

All things considered, however, Bitancurt isn’t looking to be a hero.

“Absolutely not. If it comes, you have to be prepared for it, but I don’t think any kicker wants to have it come down on them. We want the team to win straight up,” he said.

So it was that kicking 10 extra points in one game was fine with him, something he would take in every game, even though it did wear him down by the time the evening had ended.

“Yeah, my leg got tired. I can’t lie; in the Orange Bowl. I got tired. I kicked 10 extra points and some kickoffs on top of that,” he said.

It isn’t simply the physical work of kicking the extra point that makes you tired, though.

“What makes you more tired is mentally. Every time the offense has the ball, I’m mentally kicking field goals,” he explained. “You do more mental reps. You always make your mental reps. If you are ready to go on the field and already have visualized the kick going through, it will help your consistency”

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