November 16, 2007

New attitude helps kicking game

Over the years, the placekicker has never been a position that commanded much respect. With his duties confined to a rather non-physical specialty duty, the kicker has seldom struck fear in the hearts of opposing players. Nick Saban's approach to the position might just change that perception.

"I think it's a matter of confidence and having the right psychological approach," Saban said of coaching the placekicker position. "For years I managed these guys like they were playing left guard and that is not the way to do it. They are going to go in for three or four plays in the game, almost like an assassin mentality they have to focus on that one thing they have to make it work, it's a little different approach."

Saban's assassin analogy seemed to appeal to Alabama starting kicker Leigh Tiffin who after a lackluster start has hit nine straight field goals including two of over 50-yards last week against Mississippi State.

"He told me one day in practice I've got to be able to walk out there and hit a pylon from 50 yards away if that's what's asked of me," Tiffin said. "He said you've got to be like an assassin - ready at any time, one shot, one kill."

According to Tiffin, his remarkable turnaround this season began around the Arkansas game when a late fourth quarter kick set up the Crimson Tide for its game winning touchdown on the following drive. Tiffin said prior to that game, he had suffered with his confidence as well as consistency with his technique.

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