|COLLEGE FOOTBALL PACKAGE: N.C. State kicker shines after transferring from Division III|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 31 October 2007 11:30|
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -For North Carolina State's Steven Hauschka, kicking field goals is like pulling teeth.|
The soon-to-be dental student is the only starting kicker in the Atlantic Coast Conference who hasn't missed a field goal and is the only one in the Bowl Subdivision who's perfect on both field goals and extra points.
Not bad for a graduate student who transferred from Division III Middlebury and joined the Wolfpack so late that he's not even pictured in the media guide.
``I knew I was a pretty good kicker from my days at Middlebury, and I thought my biggest challenge would be adjusting to the crowd,'' Hauschka said. ``I was really nervous the first game, worried how I'd perform under pressure, because 60,000 people watching you kick (is) a whole lot different than a couple thousand, mostly parents. But after the first-game jitters, after I got those out of the way, I was really proud of the way I performed.''
Hauschka's journey from a tiny liberal arts college in Vermont to the upper level of Division I began at the end of last season when he contacted then-Boston College coach Tom O'Brien, who was looking for help for his team's kickoff unit.
They remained in touch during O'Brien's transition to N.C. State, and he took advantage of the now-rescinded rule that allowed a player who earned his degree to transfer and enroll in a graduate program at another school and immediately exhaust his remaining eligibility.
He is 19-for-19 on extra points and 10-for-10 on field goals, and has proven himself as a worthy successor to John Deraney, who from 2003-2006 made a school-record 76 extra points.
``If we gave (Hauschka) more opportunities early, maybe we'd have a winner,'' O'Brien said.
Hauschka, who will miss a practice next week to interview at Tufts' dental school, is the latest of O'Brien's kickers with a unique story. He follows Steve Aponavicius, a walk-on at BC who went from face-painting fan to starter nicknamed ``Sid Vicious.''
``I did come out of nowhere,'' Hauschka said. ``That was a fun thing, too, to not even see my name in the media guide. Guess that shows what hard work can do.''
REPLACING A FORD: Tommy Bowden wants everyone at Clemson to make up for the loss of Jacoby Ford.
The speedy sophomore receiver is out for the season after breaking his ankle in last week's win at Maryland.
The Atlantic Coast Conference track champion used his speed on the football field, and was the only Division I player with a punt return and kickoff return touchdown of 90 yards or better in 2006.
Ford caught 17 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns this season, and rushed for 172 yards.
While the No. 25 Tigers will use veterans Tyler Grisham and Rendrick Taylor to fill much of Ford's role, Bowden has urged all his players to do what they can to make up for his breakaway ability.
``Defensive scores are legal,'' Bowden said. ``We could have one of those this year.''
Bowden also talked up special team TDs, something else the Tigers have not had this year.
C.J. Spiller, a running back with speed that rivals Ford's, said he may take up some of those responsibilities on end-around plays and reverses.
Spiller said it's up to all players to hold blocks that much longer, gain that extra first down and fight for the end zone that much harder to pick up for what Ford's done.
``We've all got to do what we can,'' Spiller said.
ROLE REVERSAL: For years Florida State was the king of the ACC, winning or sharing 12 of 14 league titles since joining the league in 1992.
Now, for the second straight year the Seminoles have been reduced to being merely spoilers. They face a late-season schedule that includes road games at No. 2 Boston College, No. 11 Virginia Tech and No. 18 Florida.
``The first thing I thought of was, that used to be us,'' coach Bobby Bowden said. ``People used to have to deal with us. We were there, every Saturday, every Saturday, aiming at Florida State, aiming at Florida State. Now, here it is the other way around. We're aiming at them, so it will be a great challenge.''
CAMPUS CONNECTIONS: Virginia and Wake Forest will meet for the first time since 2003, but the coaches are intimately familiar with each other's schools.
Virginia's Al Groh went 26-40 coaching the Demon Deacons from 1981-86. Wake Forest's Jim Grobe was a two-year starter at middle guard and linebacker for the Cavaliers in 1973-74, earning academic all-ACC honors.
``I certainly love my school and enjoyed playing football there, but Wake Forest is my school now, so there's no nostalgia there,'' Grobe said.
Groh's six seasons in Winston-Salem gave him a unique appreciation for the historically woeful Demon Deacons' unlikely ACC title last season. As he watched them play in the Orange Bowl, he said his wife asked, ``Honey, do you think anyone besides you and I can fully understand what a great job they've done there?''
AP Sports Writer Pete Iacobelli in Clemson, S.C., contributed to this report.
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