|Missouri kicker Jeff Wolfert hasn't missed last 2 years in Big 12|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 29 November 2007 10:12|
The cushion had been supplied by Jeff Wolfert's extremely accurate right leg.
He connected on a pair of 43-yard field goals in the 36-28 victory last Saturday, which vaulted the Tigers to No. 1 for the first time since 1960 and allowed him to continue a perfect two-year run in Big 12 play.
``He's been an outstanding kicker for us, and he works very hard at it,'' quarterback Chase Daniel said. ``He doesn't just sit around and do his own thing in practice. He's working every single day to get better.''
It's an asset that's often overlooked in Missouri's overloaded offense.
The Tigers are among the highest-scoring schools in the country with a 42-point average, and are the only school to score 30 points in every game. Daniel, a Heisman Trophy candidate, has a bevy of wide receivers to choose from, topped by the tight end tandem of Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman, and running back Tony Temple is back after struggling with an ankle injury.
But when they fall short of the end zone, there's always Wolfert, who has made an astounding 87 consecutive extra points and field goals in conference games the past two seasons.
``It's in the back of my head, but I try not to think about it too much because I don't want to jinx it,'' Wolfert said. ``I'm just thinking about the snap and the hold, and really just keeping my head down, because I know if I keep my head down good things are going to happen.''
In two seasons overall, Wolfert is 35-for-41 on field goal attempts with a long of 48 yards this year and 54 yards in 2006. He had a run of 59 consecutive successful field goals and extra points in all games before missing a 49-yarder against Illinois in the season opener.
Wolfert's background as a high school soccer player aids in kicking. His background in competitive diving helps him block out the distractions. He was a scholarship diver at Missouri, competing at 10 meters, before making the football team as a walk-on in 2005.
``Just being an athlete and being in a whole bunch of competitions, you've got to be able to focus and eliminate the distractions,'' he said. ``I feel like that's helped me with field goal kicking and being able to perform under pressure.''
With a No. 1 ranking, Missouri's first Big 12 North title and a berth in the conference championship game against No. 9 Oklahoma on Saturday night in San Antonio at stake, there was plenty of pressure against Kansas.
Not for this guy.
``As we win, every game is important, so every kick is important,'' Wolfert said. ``I'm just happy it's turned out the way it has.''
Notes: Missouri is one of three BCS conferences with a championship game, and coach Gary Pinkel doesn't waste his time thinking about the extra victory the Tigers need to make it to the BCS title game. ``Sometimes it's to your advantage to be able to play in that championship game and be able to move up in the polls,'' he said. ``Sometimes it's to your disadvantage. What everybody does is they look at their situation and then they plead their case.'' ... Jeremy Maclin, second in the nation in all-purpose yards, committed to Oklahoma before switching to Missouri. ``He accepted recruiting a little bit, came to games and he changed his mind,'' Pinkel said. ``He just felt comfortable here. I thought it was a great decision.''