The Mustache Man: Is Oregon Settled at Placekicker?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials 21 Comments

I know that for many Oregon fans, this is a slam-dunk decision and we don’t need to waste time thinking about it any further. Should we just anoint the “Mustache-Man,” Henry Katleman, the starting kicker and be done with it? That was my gut reaction and that of analysts on other sites, but I got to pondering about the big picture and examples from the past. Is it wise to count Cam Lewis out?

I can almost hear all the forehead slaps out there….

First the facts. Cam Lewis has not been reliable in his time at Oregon, and some big misses this last season really cemented that conclusion. I am still sore at him for choking a chip-shot field goal at Auburn that ultimately made an impact on that loss. In 2020 he went 1-4 in field goals and missed anything over 30 yards; to me the talent is there, but the difference is what is in his head.

Pac-12 Video

Henry Katleman lining up for a 52 yarder … and making it!

Meanwhile Henry Katleman went 4-4 in 2020, with two of those field goals over 40 yards; in the Spring Game he made (barely) a 52 yarder in ideal conditions. The mischievous look on his face in the top photo almost suggests that he relishes the challenge and has a unique mind-set. Of his two kickoffs I could confirm on Saturday, one went out of the end zone, and the other went two yards deep into the end zone. We know that Lewis gets a ton of touchbacks…

Before I count a player out–I think back 17 years ago when Oregon State lost at LSU 22-21 because their freshman kicker missed three PATs. I recall thinking that not only should he lose his scholarship … he should not even travel home with the team. Let him clear out his locker later and not infect the team with his lack of concentration!

But the Beaver head coach was smarter than I and gave future Lou Groza Award winner Alexis Serna a chance at redemption. Oregon State was rewarded for that faith as this young kicker defeated his demons and went on to win games in Corvallis.

Kevin Cline

Camden Lewis kicks the winner vs. WSU 2019.

The Ducks had not beaten Mike Leach and Washington State in a boatload of years, and at crunch time when Oregon really needed a game-winning kick, Lewis came through. Losing that game would have changed everything in 2019, and a Rose Bowl win may not have happened but for Lewis. Isn’t he deserving of a chance at redemption?

I am torn at this as I still have feelings about the loss a decade ago in 2011 to USC that deleted us from the national picture. The Trojans were killing it on offense that day, but the Ducks got lined up for a game winning field goal….just 37 yards in front of the goal posts with no wind.. and you know what happened.

Offering redemption versus not taking chances on a shaky kicker–it is hard to decide. I am curious as to your thoughts because…

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo from Pac-12 Video

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FishIceCream

I enjoyed this one – thanks Charles! Is there anything more confusing and frustrating to football types than trying to figure out “futbal” types?

I do have a few thoughts. No surprise!

First: I look at place kickers like golfers, which is something that many football fans may have more experience with than soccer. If anyone is a horrible golfer like me, you will know that some days you swing effortlessly and the ball just flies where you want it to. Other days you swing with all your might and it bounces off your playing partner’s shoe.

Even pro level golfers go through ups and downs. I say it makes sense to have at least two, so if one gets in a funk, maybe the other is getting into a sweet spot.

Second: I think the kicking game is important enough that it’s worth spending a few scholarship spots on it. Maybe I am crazy, but I’ve always thought that a big school like UO, with many former high school soccer players, should be able to find at least one person who can kick it out the back of the end zone 19 out of 20 times.

We all know that football is a game of yards and inches, so if you are letting the opposing team start on the 30 yard line on average rather than the 25, over the course of a game you have just given up a ton of yards for free. Get someone who will always put it out of the end zone, and give the man (or woman even!) a scholarship. It doesn’t matter if they never kick an extra point or field goal.

Obviously you hit on one of my pet peeves!

Finally, an anecdote: When I played football at Lincoln (Portland) we weren’t that great, but we had a top notch soccer team during those years, and convinced one of the best players on that team to come kick for us. On more than one kickoff, he (being an excellent athlete) beat our entire kickoff coverage team down the field and made a solo tackle, and then ran off with a smirk similar to the picture of Katleman above.

I am sure that would not happen at the college level, but I still chuckle when I remember that and hear people complain about kickers.

The Constitutionalist

I’m not a football coach by any means, but it seems to me that picking, benching, and coaching a kicker has to be one of the most challenging things to do correctly. Kickers bear a truly enormous amount of pressure. From game winning or losing kicks to putting or taking away your team’s position to win or lose in a single moment during a single play. When a team loses by one or two due to a last minute missed field goal or a crappy kick puts the other team in position to score with a minute left to play, its the kicker who bears the burden. To the kicker, and often to the fans, it’s all on him.

Of all the positions on the team, after I’ve had time to cool off and evaluate the game, I’m normally quick to give the benefit of the doubt to the kicker. Exceptions obviously apply when there’s a clear pattern of atrociousness, but often the sample size is so small to truly come to a data-driven conclusion.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say. Kickers have the highest highs and the lowest lows.

The Constitutionalist

I’m glad to be back! Life has been busy between raising a nearly two year old and another one on the way in September (hopefully NOT on a Saturday), things have just been rather strange this year.

Notalot

Some accounts indicate that Cristobal and staff are still looking for kickers. It’s too early to tell for sure, though early results point to Henry Katleman as the kicker de jour. Let’s see what 3 more months, the first preseason game and the OSU game reveal?

The ‘stache is very stylish and Henry’s personality will propel him as a crowd favorite if he can be consistent game to game, and a hero when the opportunity presents itself.

In kicking there is a small margin between being a hero or a bum.

And, we just might need 52 or more yards one day to demoralize the dastardly Huskies, Beavers or Buckeyes.

ICamel

Anyone who has watched Lewis kick PAT’s knows that the only consistent aspect of his game is inconsistency. Left, right, straight down the center.

Katleman is my choice for FG’s and PAT’s due to a higher level of consistently straight kicks.

David Marsh

Kicking is a high stress job and I am sure that in practice Lewis has been consistent and solid… but when it is game time he chokes.

As Oregon fans we all still have nightmares of Alejandro Maldonado who missed soooo many critical kicks for Oregon in the early 2010’s. Kicks that were do or die.

Personally… I think Lewis can stay on the practice squad. Katleman is THE kicker at this point. He also had a nice kickoff during the Spring Game… something that Lewis has also failed to get the distance on. Oregon should be booting those kickoffs into the end zone and negating the return game.

Logger29

You are correct sir – I did not slap my forehead but I did blow coffee out my nose reacting to your contemplation that there be any consideration of Lewis being the Duck place kicker. As a player, coach, and now a grumpy old guy I could never kick a football nor did I ever understand kickers, but if you have a decent, halfway reliable kicker it was and still is an asset.

In a previous discussion the fall off in offensive point production by Oregon was lamented and seen as a major obstacle in achieving the level of play needed to compete for a championship. It may be having “The Mustache “ booting field goals consistently will help up the scoring average, duh!

As to Lewis, well an old teammate toasts the loss of a buddy by raising his glass and saying “He was a good man, but now he’s gone.”

Haywarduck

I don’t have a problem with Aaron Smith starting at RB if he earns it. I actually love seeing walk-ons take practice time and playing time from our more heralded recruits.

As for kickers I think all-state soccer players may be our best bet. We need to recruit well rounded athletes, and those who have competed at a high level. An all-state soccer player checks all the boxes I want to see in our kicker.

I have nothing against Camden Lewis, I hope he succeeds. The problem I have is he went to every camp, look at his bio, and that is where his experience is from. We need to recruit kids who have been part of a team, not just a contrived competition. Just my thoughts on kickers, and walk-ons.

And Serna was a walk-on.

smith72

I say redemption. It’s good insurance to have a talented (but shaky) back up! Just like the quarterback position, you don’t want an empty cupboard if the starter gets injured.

Great question and Oregon should seldom give a kicker a scholarship before he steps on campus. Kicker camp ratings have given us too many china doll type kickers. They look good on the shelf, but brake once put into use.

We need to get some guys on campus, and have a competition for a valuable scholarship. Bring on the kickers who were on the track team too, soccer players who goalies got out of the way of. There are soccer players who can place a ball anywhere they want in a net, and can kill it, with the pressure on.

Most every position is worthy of a scholarship out of high school, but the kicker position should be an annual competition to see whose got it, on campus!

Look at the NFL Draft, one kicker was drafted. Teams don’t waster draft picks on kickers, college teams shouldn’t waste scholarships on high school kickers. There are exceptions, but Oregon should learn from what the NFL does.

smith72

Another good discussion should be about the coaching of Special Teams. They are truly an important third of a game! The Fiesta bowl last season underlines the regression!

How thrilling for us and demoralizing for Kansas state when DeAnthony Thomas returned the kickoff for a TD! Jevon Holland gave us that thrill; but too many times our returns up the middle result in starting at the 15 yard line.

On the other hand what is the opponent’s average starting point? 30 or 35? Special Teams coaching IMHO is the weakest part of MC’s coaching staff.

Haywarduck

Great point, special teams has to be the third leg of the stool or the whole thing falls over. That leg at Oregon is at least a little short, causing instability with our game.