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November 1, 2012
Saying the kicking game could impact the outcome of a football game isn't exactly bold.
However, as we head towards kickoff between Washington and Cal there's good reason to believe the special teams battle could be especially important.
Cal has had a knack for big plays in the kicking game, but they have also had some breakdowns.
Vincen D'Amato has missed three extra points already this season. He's 13/18 on field goal attempts, and while that number alone is fairly respectable it doesn't tell the whole story. He's 6/6 from inside 30-yards, padding his total on chip shots.
He's just 3/5 from 30-39 yards out and 3/6 from 40-49 yards. He does have a big leg and is a threat to hit from 50-plus, but his inconsistency from beyond 30 has to be troubling for Jeff Tedford.
In spite of the fact that kickoffs are shorter this season, D'Amato has just 17 touchbacks on 48 total boots off the tee. O f course, plenty of teams have been allowing opponents to return kickoffs. But for Cal the stat is especially important.
Why is that so important? Because opponents are averaging 27.4 yards per return on those kickoffs. So don't be surprised if the Huskies break a nice return or two.
Utah's Reggie Dunn returned two kickoffs for touchdowns against the Bears. That rarely ever happens and is evidence that the problems in kick coverage aren't just slight lapses.
Washington may be a slightly better team than Cal. But the game could still go either way.
If the Huskies do manage to win on the road it will be interesting to see if big plays in the kicking game have a part in it.