BYU’s kicking situation needs a solution.
The Cougars coaching staff took the first step toward finding that on Monday, reopening the competition for the team’s starting placekicker.
Long-time starter Jake Oldroyd has missed three consecutive field goals — all within 40 yards — over the last two weeks, dating back to two big misses against Baylor.
After the Baylor missteps, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake stood by Oldroyd as the team’s unquestioned starter. But after a 38-yard miss that early in what became a loss to Oregon, Sitake and Co. are looking at all of their options.
“We have to continue to evaluate if [Oldroyd kicking] is the right thing for the team at this point,” special teams coordinator Ed Lamb said on his weekly television show. “He has to continue to earn to be the No. 1 guy. He has got to make those field goals. It is a bottom-line business for everybody on the team.
“So we have to reopen the competition and bring out the best in Jake and the other guys.”
Against the Bears, he missed two potential game-winning kicks in regulation and in overtime. One of those kicks was from 35 yards out on the left hash. Another was from 37 yards out in the center of the field.
But the changes did not turn into points on the field. Oldroyd missed a 38-yard kick from the right hash against Oregon. It allowed the Ducks to get the ball late in the half and take a three-score lead going into halftime. If Oldroyd had made the kick, BYU would have been within a touchdown at that point.
“Absolutely,” Lamb said if the missed kick changed the momentum of the game. “You never want to put too much on one play. But we do it all the time when we make the field goal, when we make the touchdown, when we make the stop. College football is a game of momentum.”
The backup kickers for BYU are Justen Smith and Cash Peterman.
Smith is 2-for-3 in his career kicking field goals during his three years with the program. He played in four games in 2021. His last make came in a blowout win against Idaho State, a 39-yard attempt.
Peterman has never attempted a field goal at BYU. It’s his second year in the program.
“Those other guys can be accurate and definitely make field goals,” Lamb said. “Jake is going to have the most pop, the biggest leg and best operation time. He has had that most consistently, so we will probably see that same type of thing. It’s just that we need to deliver in that situation.”
Lamb’s comments alluded to the fact that Oldroyd is still the favorite to win the job. But his recent stretch is concerning.
Coming into this season, the junior was considered one of the top kickers in college football. He was a Lou Garza Award finalist in 2020, awarded to the nation’s top kicker.
He went 13-for-13 on field goals in 2020, including multiple makes over 50 yards. In his career, he boasted over a 75% make-rate until the last two weeks. In 2022, he is 4-of-7.
Oldroyd has dealt with some lingering back issues throughout his career. Lamb indicated health is not the issue with his recent misses.
“He is very much where he needs to be,” Lamb said. “I think mentally he is strong, at least everything I gather. … We felt really good about seeing what has transferred in practice and the expectations we have in a game.”
Sitake was asked about the kicking situation and said everything will be evaluated after the loss to Oregon.
Lamb said the competition is not necessarily an indication BYU will move on from Oldroyd.
“Even NFL kickers can miss one kick, so we don’t want to overreact to situations,” Lamb said. “This is three kicks in a row. Each new missed kick is a new situation and this one is a little different than last week.”