With the season fast approaching, we’ve got a pretty good handle on the defense, some solid assumptions on the offense, and of course Blake Gillikin at punter.
But what about the placekickers?
Last year, Jake Pinegar and Rafael Checa split kicking duties, with Pinegar taking field goals, while Checa was more of a kickoff specialist.
On the season, Jake Pinegar was 53 of 55 on extra points, and 16 of 24 on field goals, including 5 of 11 on kicks over 40 yards, with a long of 49 yards. The biggest issue Pinegar faced last season was trajectory, as his kicks often had a flat angle, allowing for a handful of blocks. Entering his sophomore season, Pinegar will look to hold onto the field goal and extra point duties.
Rafael Checa, on the other hand, was the kickoff specialist for the Lions, routinely forcing touchbacks and eliminating chances at returns. However, not all was rosy for Rafael, as he placed six kickoffs out of bounds, and the team allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown in the season opener against Appalachian State.
In comes the X-factor in Virginia Tech transfer Jordan Stout. Stout is firmly in the kickoff specialist hunt, as he’s only attempted one field goal in his career (which he missed), and is just 4-for-4 on extra point attempts. However, on kickoffs Jordan is a beast. In 2018, 60 of his 71 kickoffs went for touchbacks...at 84.5% touchbacks, he was number four in all of FBS in touchback percentage.
Whoever ends up kicking for the Lions, it’s nice to have a bit more competition and depth at the position. It will also be nice to see how new special teams coordinator Joe Lorig handles kicking duties in his first year with the Lions.