We are now living in a post-Sam Ficken at Penn State world. That sucks, right? That really, really sucks.
Dammit, it just hit me that Sam Ficken's gone.
Let's just get to the bold part.
Which player is going to replace Sam Ficken in 2015?
Devon: Nobody. There will be another kicker, but there will never be another Sam Ficken. Joey Joe Joe Julius "Big Toe" Shabadoo seems as likely as anyone else to get the nod (though Chris Gulla will have a shot, too), but no matter who gets the first chance to place-kick for Penn State in 2015, they'll be more like the 2012 Ficken that couldn't be trusted to kick an extra point than the cult hero of 2014 $am Ficken, who nailed just about every field goal that cleared the line of scrimmage.
Jared: This is one we just won't know until we get into the 2015 campaign. There are plenty of potential replacements vying for the job, and all signs point to Joe "The Pillsbury Toeboy" Julius taking over the placekicking duties. However, the job won't rightfully settled until the week one starter proves that he can perform in the heat of the battle, not just perform well in practice. And to truly replace Ficken, the new guy will not only need to perform at a high level, but be able to make difficult kicks when the game hangs in the balance.
Cari: I mean, it's gotta be Big Toe, right? No one can replace Ficken in terms of heart and overcoming adversity and their place in Nick's heart, but for a kicker, I'm anticipating Joe Julius being the starter day one. Chris Gulla will probably handle kickoffs, but Julius was not only by far the more accurate kicker in the field goal competition in the blue/white game, but all reports out of spring practice were that he secured the position.
I just hope it's him, because who doesn't love fat kickers?
Matt: The obvious answer is Joe Julius, but I'm going off the board. Penn State's offense is going to be the unit that replaces what Sam Ficken gave PSU last year, which was an almost guaranteed 3 points anytime the ball reached the 30 yard line. With so much unknown amongst Julius, and the cast of thousands looking to take over the kicking duties, the biggest way to replace that is eliminate the reliance on the position. A year before coming to PSU, James Franklin actually went for it on 4th down at Vanderbilt (28) more than Bill O'Brien did with the Lions (24). He converted a ridiculous 22 of those chances as well. If PSU's offense can become more efficient, not just in the red zone, but enough to instill some confidence in those short yardage situations, the kicking game will be an added bonus, not the main source of scoring.
bscaff: Toe Julius
Dan: I never played organized soccer in my youth. I did play at recess in elementary school, and I became almost legendary for being the only kid in my grade to never be able to score a goal before moving on to middle school. I then neglected to play soccer for ten years before joining an intramural soccer team at Penn State. In two games I did not score and also coughed up a turnover that led to a breakaway game-winning goal. And I was recently trying to re-install a shelf in my house and ended up having the shelf fall on my face. After it hit the floor and out of anger from having struck myself in the face with a shelf, I kicked the shelf. I struck the corner of the shelf with my big toe, cutting a hole in my shoe and causing my toe to bleed.
Kicking things is hard and I don't know anything about it.
Tim: Joey Julius. FAT KICKER FTW.
Nick: NO ONE ON THIS ENTIRE PLANET HAS THE ABILITY TO "REPLACE" SAM FICKEN. SAM FICKEN IS IRREPLACEABLE IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD. THE GREATEST KICKER IN THE WORLD COULD SIGN ON TO KICK FIELD GOALS FOR PENN STATE, AND HE STILL WOULDN'T "REPLACE" SAM FICKEN. SHOW SOME RE97PECT FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.
In terms of on field play, it's clearly Joe Julius. He's been the one performing in practice, and he'll get the first crack at the job. I'm sure he'll experience more than one rough patch this season with his accuracy, but he has a very powerful leg. Hopefully that power will not only show up on field goals, but on kickoffs as well, where Penn State could still use some help. Julius' career outlook could change with a commitment from 2016 K/P Quinn Nordin or 2016 K/P Blake Gillikin, but for now, it's his job to lose.
Bill: From the "cult hero who goes from the most hated guy on the roster to the guy everyone loves" perspective, there is nobody who could possibly fit this (except for maybe John Donovan, but he doesn't play, and I think bscaff would rip my throat out if I said "there is a chance that people will love John Donovan," so yeah).
As for kicker, while we all love Joey Julius (and there is a good chance he wins the job), I think a lot of us are sleeping on Tyler Davis. While this is hardly the kind of thing we should put a ton of stock in, he looked spectacular during the kicking competition that happened before the Blue-White game, and actually was the co-winner with Julius. I ultimately think MURDERLEG – yes, I know, that didn't win the poll thing we did but I'm running with it – is the starter, but don't be surprised if Franklin and co. take a game or two to solidify who will be Ficken's heir apparent between Julius and Davis.