Inside Rob Beard's big bunt
Couldn't help myself. Had to go back and review/dissect/analyze/geek out on one play in particular from last Saturday. In so doing, I got a cool story from a guy who's lucky to be on the field this season.
Before singlehandedly wresting momentum from Stanford in the Ducks' 52-31 win over the Cardinal a week ago, before earning the starting job in fall camp, Oregon kicker
One of my sisters once brought a kicker home to dinner. During that repast, my brother
He probably didn't mean it. Because when the team needs the kicker, it
Special teams coaches at every level harp ceaselessly on these points: 1) Once a kickoff has traveled 10 yards, it's a live ball. 2) The return team's four front-line guys, who line up 15 yards from the ball, are
"There's an opportunity to bunt the ball here," Coach Oz informed the kickers -- "bunt," naturally, meaning onside kick. So the Ducks repped the play all week.
It's a peculiar skill that eludes some kickers, as Ducks fans learned the hard way a year ago. (With Oregon storming back against the Cardinal, backup punter
It was decided: The bunt kick was a go! Oregon would spring the trap on its
When that moment came, Osborne gathered the kickoff team around him. "All right guys, this is gonna be a big play for us," Beard recalls Osborne saying. "We've
"I've practiced this twenty times," Beard told himself, slightly inflating the number. "This is going to be easy."
"If you make this kick," Kelly said, "I'll give you a scholarship."
"I looked at him, and I said, 'OK'," says Beard, who is not the excitable type. "There was no way I was missing that one. I just lined it up and took a deep breath. I was calm as a butterfly -- just kicked the ball and watched it go through the posts."
Not long after, with the team bunched around him, Kelly told his kicker, "Rob, tell the guys what I just told you." Beard did.
"Rob, you got a scholarship," Kelly announced, and a cheer went up over the practice field.
After that session, the team boarded buses for the airport, for the flight to Knoxville. Beard remembers sitting on the bus, thinking, "I've been waiting three years for this, and finally got it."
He'd come a long way in eight months. Lying in the ICU at the Sacred Heart Medical Center in critical condition, his football future was highly uncertain. Knocked to the ground in a brawl that had involved some 20 people, he suffered a broken nose and fractured bones around his eyes. (He was also cited for harassment for his role in the fight, and suspended from the team's opener against New Mexico.)
Beard made up for lost time against Portland State, converting
"Good effort here by Beard!" proclaims ABC's
Yeah, Mark. Who would ever say something like that?