For Duck fans, a field goal has become a gut-wrenching, last second act of desperation gone awry.
The Oregon football program is no stranger to hanging its national title hopes on a fourth quarter field goal, and unfortunately, they have come up short and to the left … twice.
Oregon’s prolific offensive schemes and stout defense can only take it so far; you can’t overlook the basic Xs and Os of football. So while the Ducks may have learned this the hard way, incoming freshman Matt Wogan is here to change the nightmare that is a “field goal” for the better… way better.
Wogan comes to Eugene all the way from Indian Trail, NC, where he became a three-year varsity starter and special teams standout for the Porter Ridge Pirates. He punted the ball a mile, kicked off into the end zone frequently, and most importantly, kicked field goals right down the middle.
Needless to say, he does it all.
He also played tight end/wide receiver in high school, but it was his leg that earned him national recognition of being possibly the best high school kicker in the nation.
In Wogan’s high school career, he made five 50+ yard field goals, his long being 58 yards. His three-year net punting average was 43.6 yards, with an notable long of 72 yards. On top of that, 80 percent of kickoffs were into the end zone. He ended up with four all-league awards, and three all-state recognition’s by the Charlotte Observer. In the battle of power vs. accuracy, he is definitely considered a power kicker; one who has the muscle to drill 55-yard bombs in light rain, but may struggle with a 43-yarder in heavy wind.
Wogan is currently all moved into Eugene for summer practice and eagerly awaits fall camp to battle it out with Alejandro Maldonado for the starting position. Roster projections have Wogan with kick off duties, and Maldonado as the starting field goal kicker with Dylan Ausherman penciled in at punter.
While Wogan may bring consistency and new hope to the Oregon kicking unit, what has the position meant over the past couple of years? In a system that goes for it on fourth down, relies heavily on its skilled positions, and puts up 35+ points a game, what is a kicker to do?
Recently, despite the team’s overall success and national brand, high-caliber kickers often overlook Oregon as a destination due to the notion that they will never see the field. The kickers who do choose Oregon are labeled as “second tier” and a “last resort” option for the Ducks. Not the best start to a career that will ultimately be determined by a couple misses or makes.
To put it simply, the culture of Oregon kickers needs to change.
Alabama and LSU don’t take kicking lightly and neither should Oregon. This is not to say the mastermind that is Chip Kelly simply “forgot” about a kicking unit, but they became dwarfed and unappreciated amidst the offensive domination.
Let Wogan bring lifeblood to the future of Oregon kickers and replace the knots in fans’ stomachs with boats of confidence whenever the special teams unit takes the field on fourth down.
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Joe Packer is a sophomore at the University of Oregon, majoring in Journalism. A Portland, Oregon native, he has been an avid Duck fan his whole life, attending his first of countless Duck football games at the age of 2. He played Lacrosse in high school, and today enjoys shooting hoops and a round of golf just about every day. As a player, referee, and youth sports coach, Joe looks to share his diverse perspective on the world of sports. He welcomes your feedback. Follow him on twitter: @JoePa_
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