July 6, 2011

Wiggs carries hot streak into 2011

Although Carson Wiggs is reminded frequently of his 67-yard spring game field goal, it's another that he recalls the most often.

Last season, Wiggs missed an 18-yard chip shot against Minnesota in Week 6, and it continues to haunt him now.

"I think about that kick more than the spring game kick and more than the 59-yarder (against Toledo) and all that," the senior said. "In order to get to the next level, some scout will look and see that I hit a 67-yarder in the spring game and a 59 in a game, but 'What the hell, he missed an 18? What happened?' Really it was just a lack of concentration.

"There is really no excuse."

But Wiggs rebounded after. Following his meaningless miss from 56 yards the next week against Ohio State - Purdue was trying to avoid the shutout in a 49-0 blowout - Wiggs hit his final eight attempts of the season.

"I guess I took it more serious after I had those misses, as bad as that sounds," he said. "When you're coming off the off-season and you're feeling strong after hitting some long field goals, you've got a lot of confidence and think you can take it easy and do your thing. But this kind of taught me to go out there and think 'I might not make this unless I focus and I use 100 percent of my technique and power and all that.' I did that the last half of the season."

And Wiggs' numbers reflect his hot streak.

In his three seasons, the Texas native has hit 37 field goals, ranking third on Purdue's all-time list, in 51 attempts. His 72.5 accuracy mark puts him first in school annals.

But a further look into Wiggs' numbers show he might be even better. Six of his 14 misses have come from outside 50 yards, including a two 60-yard attempts and a 56-yarder. He's 33-of-41 from inside 50 (80.5 percent) and 22-of-26 (84.6) from 10 yards closer and in. And two of his misses have blocked.

That impresses special teams coach J.B. Gibboney.

"The kid wants to be great," Gibboney said. "He is taking advantage of every opportunity he can get. He is not only a great place-kicker, I would say he is the best specialist in America. When I say that I mean he is the best, he can kickoff and kick it better than anybody in the country. He can punt with some of the best players and he can obviously kick."

But his powerful right leg has gotten Wiggs the most acclaim. The 6-foot, 194-pounder's longest make in a game is the 59-yarder hit a couple years ago against Toledo. But he's unofficially gone farther. During training camp prior to last season, he hit a 72-yarder, with what he described as a "hurricane-force" winds helping push the ball along. There was no such assist during the spring game, however, when he hit from 67 - the boot might have been good from 72 - that was the culmination of a series in which he hit 4-of-5, missing only from five yards shorter.

Wiggs thinks he could replicate that distance in a game, if given the chance. And he might get the opportunity if Coach Danny Hope has his way.

"I had him kick those in the spring game for several reasons," Hope said. "No. 1, if he made it, if we are looking at a big game and we need to make a decision if we are going to throw a Hail Mary or kick a 65-yard field goal, I think I would kick a 65-yard field goal right now if the wind was right.

"Let's say I ran him out there to kick that 67-yard field goal in the spring game and he missed it, well then everyone would think I was a fool. No one tries a 67-yard field goal. But he made it, and what would you rather have me do right now, throw the Hail Mary or kick the field goal?"

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