Welcome to our series in which we try to determine if the Arizona Wildcats’ position groups are in strong, stable, unstable, serious, or critical condition heading into fall camp. Last up are the kickers.
- Returning Starters: Lucas Havrisik
- Backups: Nathan Halsell
- Key Departures: None
- New Additions: Tyler Loop
Lucas Havrisik came into the program tabbed as one of the strongest legs in the country. It was a huge win for then-special teams coach Charlie Ragle to snag him late in the process.
Havrisik showed off a huge leg as a true freshman and nailed some long field goals when called on. But since his freshman season things have started to go downhill. While it could just a mental barrier at this point, a good chunk of it can fall on coaching and it’s just an enormous elephant in the room at this point.
As a sophomore in 2018, Havrisik went 6-for-11 on field goals and even went 22-for-24 on extra points, which is a punch to the gut when special teams is as bad as it is.
Junior year wasn’t much better, with Havrisik going 10-for-17 on field goal attempts and missing two PATs once again, finishing the year 37-for-39. Taking chances on long kicks are fine and you have to take the situation in consideration when assessing his misses. But he went 1 for 3 on field goal attempts from 30 to 39 yards while also missing one in the 20- to 29-yard range.
It’s unfortunate because kicker is a position filled with immense pressure and things can easily spiral out of control. Havrisik has the leg, but there’s something off between the snap and contact that has really limited Arizona’s options in plus-territory and sometimes just killed any chance at generating or maintaining momentum.
Arizona returns long snapper Seth MacKellar, who was in his first year in the program so there should be more consistency and synergy there.
Kickoffs are great, Havrisik has the leg to force a load of touchbacks, especially when it can be more beneficial for teams to just take the knee inside the 25 and get the ball placed in a decent spot. No complaints there.
Special teams coach Jeremy Springer swapped between Havrisik and Josh Pollack a good amount in 2018, and maybe that will be the case if incoming freshman Tyler Loop can show he can make some kicks. Loop is the No. 8 placekicking recruit in the country, according to Kohl’s Kicking.
This bodes well for Arizona, and hopefully Loop can restore order as the placekicker, with Havrisik owning kickoffs.
It sucks because I don’t think talent is an issue. Things have just gone so far down the rabbit hole that it seems almost irreversible. Whether that’s the mental block or coaching, the entire unit is just in a brutal spot.
Arizona and Jeremy Springer need Havrisik to get back to his freshman self or for Loop to step up as a true freshman.