The Brigham Young Cougars have struggled with placekicking this season, but so have their opponents—at least when they play BYU. Surprisingly, BYU has made a greater percentage of attempted field goals than opponents, and the extra point percentage is pretty close as well.
The placekicking situation was dicey to start the year with junior Justin Sorensen taking longer than expected to return from back surgery. Two missed field goals that, essentially, cost BYU a win against Utah, followed by three missed point after touchdown attempts in the next three games exacerbated the situation and fan frustration. Even now, thanks to a very ugly field goal attempt at Notre Dame, confidence is very much lacking.
With the amount of attention focused on the Cougars’ kicking woes, it has been easy to overlook how BYU’s opponents have been equally as bad.
The Cougars have made 53.8 percent of their field goal attempts this season (7-13), and 90 percent (27-30) of their point-after-touchdown (PAT) attempts. On roughly half as many PAT attempts (16), BYU opponents have already missed one kick for a 93.8 percent success rate. BYU is tied for 8th in the nation in field goal “defense.” Opponents have made exactly 50 percent (6-12) of attempted field goals against the Cougars.
The placekicking struggles become even more intriguing considering BYU hasn’t played a lot of teams that are bad at kicking field goals. Only two of the Cougars’ nine opponents have made less than 64 percent of their field goals this season. Yet, when these teams have played BYU, they typically kick worse than normal.
The following is a breakdown of how BYU opponents have fared kicking field goals against BYU compared with their overall success this season.
Attempted zero field goals
Oregon State (Season: 83.3%)
Hawaii (Season: 66.7%)
Weber State (Season: 66.7%)
Better against BYU
Washington State, 100% (Season: 73.3%)
Georgia Tech, 50% (Season: 45.5%)
Average against BYU
Utah, 50% (Season: 50%)
Worse against BYU
Boise State, 0% (Season: 66.7%)
Utah State, 50% (Season: 64.3%)
Notre Dame, 33% (Season: 75%)
Is there a greater meaning to this? Are BYU’s struggles somehow related to the struggles of their opponents? Can watching the opponent’s placekicker struggle cause BYU’s placekicker to struggle, or vice versa?
These are questions that, most likely, don’t have an answer. While it doesn't excuse BYU's struggles, it is interesting, to say the least, that the poor placekicking has been a two-way street this year.
The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at email@example.com