Lost in LSU’s newfound red zone success is the relative absence of one of football’s most vital components: the kicker.
Freshman place kicker Colby Delahoussaye has been the forgotten man while the Tigers convert red zone trips into touchdowns at a greater rate this fall, with the New Iberia native still waiting to attempt a kick longer than 28 yards.
“I’m actually happy about it,” Delahoussaye said. “Not saying I don’t want to kick, but our offense is taking care of business. If someone asks, ‘How do you know you’re good? You haven’t had to kick.’ That’s understandable. If we’re scoring, then I’m fine with not needing to prove it.”
The redshirt freshman has only booted four field goals — two from 23 yards, one from 25 yards and a 28-yarder — through four games and just one since the TCU season opener.
That leaves the green kicker as a legitimate question mark heading into a top-10 showdown between the hedges at Georgia.
With both high-octane offenses likely to pile up points, a field goal could be the difference on Saturday. The Bulldogs are familiar with the impact kicks can have, as a bobbled snap on a chip shot already cost Georgia the three points it lacked in a 38-35 loss to Clemson.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Delahoussaye said. “I’m not taking it as a stress or pressure situation. I’m seeing it as an opportunity.”
It would be new territory, as he hasn’t seen many opportunities after beating out fellow freshman Trent Domingue for the gig.
With only four field goals to analyze, nitpicking becomes a natural reaction.
It still grinds Delahoussaye that his point-after attempt against UAB nearly fell short after it was tipped at the line.
“What happened was they ran straight through our center, which you can’t do on kicks,” he said. “It should have been a flag.”
But nitpicking is a better place to be than missing field goals. Delahoussaye’s mentor, former LSU kicker Drew Alleman, faced the reality of missed kicks often in 2012 after a stellar 2011 campaign.
Alleman was perfect from inside 30 yards last season. But beyond 30 yards, he was right at 50 percent, going 8-of-16 from that distance in 2012.
This year, LSU’s offense is making Delahoussaye’s job easier, or almost nonexistent. The Tigers only scored touchdowns in the red zone 51 percent of the time last season. Numerous other 2012 drives stalled out between the 20- and 35-yard lines.
LSU hasn’t had one such drive through four games.
“We kicked a lot of field goals, and that hurt us toward the back end of the season in some close games,” sophomore running back Jeremy Hill said. “This year, I think we’re approaching it a lot different. Not that we don’t have faith in our kicker, but field goals shouldn’t be an option.”
Delahoussaye appeared to finally get a decent opportunity Saturday in the third quarter against Auburn.
With LSU up 28-7, the offense stalled out at the 14-yard line, meaning he would finally get his chance at a reasonable kick. Never mind that it was from the dead center of the field in a three-touchdown game.
But The Mad Hatter had other plans as Les Miles dialed up a fake and holder Seth Fruge came up a yard shy of a first down on a rush up the middle.
“A headache is what I got from [the play],” Miles said. “I need to give thought to running those things... Should we have executed it, we would have gotten exactly what we wanted.”
Delahoussaye said he didn’t take the fake as a slight or an indicator that Miles didn’t trust him.
“It was disappointing, because I was thinking, ‘Maybe this 20-something yard curse will get over me’ and then we run a fake,” he said. “I was more excited for Fruge because we ran on the field and looked at Auburn’s set-up and I told him, ‘This is money.’”
The fake means everyone will wait another week to see if Delahoussaye is money in the bank, or a liability on lengthy kicks. If the LSU offense had its way, no one would ever find out.