|Clemson's two-sport kicker deals with critical football misses|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 03 October 2007 10:59|
Clemson's Mark Buchholz has barely had a day off since August. He is constantly shuttled from Friday night soccer games to the football team on Saturday and has the worn-out look of anyone playing two NCAA Division I sports during the fall season.
Now, after Buchholz missed four of five field goals in Clemson's 13-3 loss at Georgia Tech, his workload has caused some concern for football coach Tommy Bowden.
Bowden spoke with soccer coach Trevor Adair, Buchholz and the kicker's father about how better to schedule Buchholz's practice time. This week, Buchholz will spend more time at football practice as Bowden hopes to simulate a game situation with a live rush.
Buchholz gets his next football chance Saturday night when the 22nd-ranked Tigers (4-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) take on No. 15 Virginia Tech (4-1, 1-0). Before that, though, is a Friday night soccer game about 550 miles away at Maryland.
Bowden said he understands the complexities of Buchholz's situation and his importance to the soccer team.
``I told him, 'Hey, I'm asking you to do something Superman wouldn't do,''' Bowden said.
How long can Bowden stick with a kicker who could've been the difference last week and has missed six of his last eight attempts?
``Not very long,'' Bowden said.
Buchholz maintains he can do both successfully.
He assisted on both Clemson goals in Friday night's 4-2 loss against Duke. Then he traveled to the football team's Atlanta hotel, arriving at about 1 a.m., for the kickoff with Georgia Tech about 14 hours later.
``I can understand why people would think I'm being stretched,'' Buchholz said.
Physically, he said he doesn't feel sore or fatigued moving from one sport to the other.
``Maybe mentally I'm a little strained because I'm being pulled in so many different directions,'' Buchholz said. ``But I feel good. I feel like I'm mentally strong enough to handle it.
``I have no complaints right now.''
However, an NCAA mandated one day off a week from each sport has become a problem. The days he was given off didn't mesh, so when he was off from football on Sunday, there was soccer practice to attend. The NCAA's rule applies to the athlete and not the sport, and Clemson's compliance office reported it as a secondary violation to the ACC.
His eligibility won't be affected in either sport, according to Clemson athletic spokesman Tim Bourret.
What Buchholz misses out on, Bowden says, is the Friday night relaxation where most college kickers visualize what might take place the next day.
Buchholz knows there's something to that, and once he's finished on the soccer field, his mind goes to football.
``I like not thinking about it too much because I think some kickers may get stressed out or think about things too much and then your technique starts to go,'' Buchholz said. ``I like to keep it simple.''
Buchholz's slump began at North Carolina State when he missed two of his final three kicks. He made four field goals in Clemson's 42-20 win, ranging from 25 to 46 yards.
Last week, Buchholz missed kicks of 30, 47, 48 and 50 yards. Buchholz won't use the excuse most of his recent misses were closer to 50 yards than to 30.
``In my head, I'm not thinking I missed a long one, so it's OK,'' he said.
Buchholz expects to break out of his slide soon. He knows he can't afford another game like last week, or Bowden might have no choice but to call on freshman Richard Jackson, who once nailed a South Carolina high-school record field goal of 64 yards.
He's still deciding if he'll return to Clemson on Friday night after the soccer match or wait until Saturday since the Tigers don't kickoff until 6 p.m.
Either way, he promises he'll be ready, no matter the sport.
``Some coaches would be like, 'Oh, geez, we got to stop this. But he's got confidence I can do this,'' Buchholz said. ``My legs are there for the kicks and I'll be mentally prepared.''