Every year we put together a breakdown of each position in the conference, and every year we pretend to care until we get to the meat: special teams. Sure the quarterbacks get all the publicity and the B1G has had defensive players win Heismans, but if you look closer at what’s really going on out there, the kickers are making the difference and some of our offenses are specifically designed to punt. Today we’re going to take a look at the B1G canvas for placekickers. Long lauded for their contributions on the field and universally respected in the locker room, kickers do much more than just put points on the board. They provide the entertainment. They kick into their own personal nets on the sidelines and sometimes miss. They break hearts and take names. They look like accountants and tackle like accountants. Here’s a look at this year’s crop of B1G royalty in all their glory:
The B1G Hero Tier
Justin Davidovicz, Rutgers
Jake Moody, Michigan
Logan Justus, Indiana
Matt Coghlin, Michigan State
These guys are your crème de la crème for the 2019 campaign, a mix of the returning all-conference kickers and guys with a proven blend of power and accuracy. Justin Davidovicz displayed an strong accuracy when able and launched from 52 last season. If Rutgers can improve enough on offense to get in range before stalling, Davidovicz could be kicking for days this season. Notably, Logan Justus took home Second Team honors last season and Matt Coghlin Third Team. Jake Moody was the B1G’s most accurate kicker in 2018, going 10-for-11 overall and perfect from inside 50.
Added insight on Coghlin from Andrew Krashtestski:
Matt Coghlin returns for his third season as the clear-cut no-doubt choice for MSU. He’s generally been okay but has finite range. There were like 7 or 8 dudes milling around kicking during the spring game, but most of them are affiliated with the unclear punting situation. Coghlin’s the guy barring injury or being caught with a fake Hawaiian ID.
The “Back in ’82 I could kick a ball over them mountains” Tier
Michael Tarbutt, Minnesota
Jake Pinegar, Penn State
These guys have potential to deliver the long ball but can leave something to be desired from distance. Penn State is not afraid to send Pinegar out for longer-range field goals, but Pinegar was notably shaky from 40+ last year, going just 5-for-11.
In addition to having an All-B1G name, Tarbutt has big shoes to fill in replacing the booming leg of Emmit Carpenter for Minnesota. A graduate transfer kicker(!) from UConn, Tarbutt hit from 50 last season.
The Muscle Memory Tier
Charlie Kuhbander, Northwestern
Joseph Petrino, Maryland
Barret Pickering, Nebraska
Blake Haubeil, Ohio State
This tier is more likely to provide you with accuracy than it will any Janikowski-esque highlights from midfield. Petrino was solid for Maryland in 2018, going 12-14 but with a season long of just 40. Barrett Pickering finished off the year with 6 straight perfect games, and Blake Haubeil added a 10-13 performance and probably a billion extra points, I’m not looking it up.
More on Charlie Kuhbander et al. from MNWildcat:
Northwestern kicking sitch is...not good. Charlie Kuhbander is the nominal returning starter, but he isn’t particularly effective from distance and was hurt for a good chunk of the season. Replacement Drew Luckenbaugh is similarly no great shakes (though he dunked on Nebraska, which was awesome).
Here’s hoping one of them steps up. Otherwise NU will just go for it when the FG is longer than like, 38 yards.
Nebby has a true SO kicker, Barret Pickering, out of Alabama. He had a poor start last season, but came around in the second half of the year. No discernible challengers.
The “I don’t know, someone with legs go kick it” Tier
Collin Larsh, Wisconsin
Caleb Griffin, Illinois
J.D. Dellinger, Purdue
Caleb Shudak, Iowa
If your kicker is in this tier, odds are he’s either an unproven no-name that has to replace someone good or he has generally stunk a bunch. Miguel Recinos, Chase McLaughlin, and Rafael Gaglianone are gone from Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, respectively, and filling the void are new faces or better yet, kicking competitions. Side note, if you have to have a kicker competition, things are probably not looking that great. J.D. Dellinger has seen action for Purdue over the years, but his accuracy has only gone down and he appeared in just one game last season, going 1-for-2 with a miss inside 30. A future big name may come from this mix, but we’ll need to see how they adjust under the lights.
With more on Caleb Griffin, the eternal optimist Thumpasaurus:
Caleb Griffin has the edge over James McCourt at this point; neither has Chase McLaughlin’s leg, which is going to make some tough decisions for notable 55-yard field goal enthusiast Lovie Smith.
How are you feeling about your special-est of teams? Tell us in the comments! Or don’t, I’m not your dad. Right?
Have you ever tried kicking a field goal?
This poll is closed
Yes, and I’m pretty sure I’d go pro tomorrow
Yes, and my hammy has never been the same
No, I have too much reverence for the task