Analyzing the Place Kicking Decision: Part II

OU place kicker Patrick O'Hara

Previously, some reasons why Patrick O'Hara is the right choice were presented, but there are also some negatives, and Sooners Illustrated brings them in this section.

Why O'Hara might be a gamble:

1. Experience--Let's face it. Even though head coach Bob Stoops said several times that freshman Michael Hunnicutt was in the mix, it was most always between O'Hara and Stevens. And Stevens has the big advantage in the experience department, starting 21 games in two years, while O'Hara has started three in just one season. Stevens was the kicker during the National Championship Game when OU lost to Florida back in January 2009.

Last season's percentage--While he was perfect inside 30, he had trouble from 30-39 yards, missing a pair of kicks from that distance, a 35-yarder against Oklahoma State and a 32-yard attempt in the Sun Bowl vs. Stanford. Combine those with the rest of his attempts, and he only made 66.7 percent of his kicks, compared to Stevens' 84.6 percent. The Sooners will almost certainly need better than that if they hope to win the National Championship.

Uncertainty in pressure cooker situations yet--One could argue playing in a bowl game has some pressure, but in the first five weeks, assuming O'Hara keeps the job, he will face much more pressure than that in games against Florida State, Cincinnati and Texas. At least a couple of those figure to be close. Contrast that to his starts last year, games against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and in that Sun Bowl against Stanford. Only the Sun Bowl was decided by less than 10 points (OU won 31-27). While one could make an argument that Bedlam is pressure in and of itself, it was a 27-0 blowout, and the Sooners never had a chance in a 41-13 loss at Lubbock. The only other game he played in was a 65-10 stomping over Texas A&M in Norman. So he will have to prove himself worthy in tense situations by making key kicks.

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