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THE X-FACTOR

Dec. 29, 2014
Dec. 29, 2014

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Dec. 29, 2014

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PREVIEW
NFL
HOCKEY
  • BU center Jack Eichel has the speed, skills and temperament to become a top draft pick and change an NHL franchise for years to come. But first the 18-year-old would like to finish his freshman year of college

SOCCER
  • F√∫tbol fever reached an alltime high in the U.S. during the World Cup this summer. So, where to from here? The answer will depend a lot on three newbies

SPORTS SCIENCE
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POINT AFTER
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THE X-FACTOR

A SPECIAL TEAM'S ACE CAN FLIP THE FIELD AND PUT OHIO STATE'S QB IN A PRECARIOUS POSITION

JK SCOTT, Freshman, P

This is an article from the Dec. 29, 2014 issue

Every inch of field position was precious when Alabama escaped Arkansas with a 14--13 win on Oct. 11; without a skinny freshman punter from Mullen High in Denver, the Crimson Tide probably wouldn't have survived the Razorbacks. Scott pinned the Arkansas offense inside its own 20 seven times, lengthening the field and giving Alabama's defense room to breathe. On his first three kicks Scott booted a 58-yarder that went out-of-bounds at the 15, a 50-yarder that the Tide downed at the 15 and a 35-yarder that they downed at the two. Scott is the least likely and most underrated weapon in Alabama's arsenal. A 6'4" 185-pounder who does Pilates to remain flexible and explosive, Scott can kick for distance (his long is 70 yards) and for placement (26 of his 48 punts, 54.2%, stuck opponents inside their own 20). "The guy's done a phenomenal job, especially thinking that he's just a freshman," Alabama coach Nick Saban says. "You worry about guys like that being able to stay focused on what they need to do to be consistent. He has flipped the field position for us a bunch this year." Against Ohio State, the Tide will face a high-speed, wide-open attack stocked with playmakers but led by a quarterback making just his second start. Cardale Jones's inexperience could force the Buckeyes to be more conservative when backed up near their own goal line, and thanks to Scott, Alabama can put Ohio State in less comfortable territory with regularity.

PHOTOJOE ROBBINS/GETTY IMAGES (SCOTT)