THE X-FACTOR

A SPECIAL TEAM'S ACE CAN FLIP THE FIELD AND PUT OHIO STATE'S QB IN A PRECARIOUS POSITION
December 29, 2014

JK SCOTT, Freshman, P

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)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)