UK Notebook: 51-yard field goal special for Begley

October 01, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - The difference between a 49-yard kick and a 50-yard kick is only one yard. To a kicker, though, it's a huge difference.

"It's special. There's not a lot of difference length-wise, but in your mind, there's a big difference between 49 and 50," said Kentucky junior kicker Taylor Begley. "It's good to finally break that barrier down."

The former Boyle County kicker broke the 50-yard "barrier" with his 51-yard field goal last week at Florida. While the kick did not keep UK from losing 20-3, it did help Begley at least partially atone for a 49-yard kick he missed on Kentucky's final possession last year in a 24-21 loss to Florida.

"It absolutely helped exorcise a few demons," Begley said. "We practice that kick every week, and it's great to get that long one out of my system.


"I have kicked so many balls since last year. I just went out there, said my prayers and got in a a zone. But it's good to have that kick behind me. I feel like I have proved to my team and my coaches and even myself that I can do it. But that miss last year will always be there to make me work harder."

Begley said he normally does not change his routine no matter what yardage he has on his field goal try.

"I just make sure I get my spot and get it right," Begley said. "In the back of my head when I am looking at the scoreboard and see what yard it is, I try not to think about the distance. You are supposed to keep the same stroke no matter how long the kick is."

Going into Saturday night's game here against Ohio, Begley has had an unusual season. He did not get on the field in the opening 28-0 loss to Louisville. In game two against Indiana, he scored a career-high 15 points - three field goals, six extra points. Against Florida, his career best kick came on UK's first possession. After that, he never got on the field again as the Kentucky offense sputtered.

"I knew against a top-echelon team like Florida that we needed all the points we would get. But certainly I expected more opportunities, and I know I will get them during the season," Begley said. "It has been a strange season. That's why you have to stay ready. You don't know if you will be out there five or 10 times or you may just get one opportunity. Each time you go out there, you have to be focused and put it through (the goalposts)."

Have to stay focused on the game

Begley says when the offense is not giving him a chance to score, he still has to stay focused on the game. Or at least try, depending on what is going on around him.

"At Florida, you have to fend off the fans," Begley said. "They gave me a hard time for 60 minutes. They were a lot worse than I thought. Arkansas used to be the place I thought was the meanest, but they were pretty hard on me even after I made the kick.

"They turned it up a notch and in the third quarter, they even started getting girls to holler at me. You try to keep your mind right. You can't give them the benefit of looking around. I hope our fans are as good as their fans are at harassing people. They were chanting my name, using a lot of profanity. The stuff gets annoying at times, but looking back it made it fun. But there was no way I could let them know then I was enjoying it."

He did enjoy the support he had from his parents and a group from Calvary Baptist Church, his hometown church. Church members told him they left Danville about 9 p.m. the night before the game and arrived at the stadium the next morning about two hours before kickoff.

"I wish we could have won for them, but it was real flattering that they even came down," Begley said. "I sure appreciate the prayers and support they give me. It means more to me than they probably know."

His parents flew to his game for the first time because they wanted to be back to see his uncle ordained as a deacon on Sunday.

"Because of the weather (Hurricane Jean) and our game time getting moved up, they were able to fly out Saturday night with no (financial) penalty. I was glad they got out when they did, too," Begley said.

Now Begley is looking for a big game Saturday.

"You saw what our offense can do against Indiana," Begley said. "I am sure I will be running out there and wearing my leg out (kicking) before the season ends. I just hope it is this week that we really click again."

Understanding: Redshirt freshman quarterback Andre Woodson is expected to play in his first game against Ohio. Starter Shane Boyd is nursing a sore left shoulder, but UK coach Rich Brooks said he intended to play Woodson before Boyd was hurt to see what he could do with a "game on the line."

Woodson has said he's nervous about his opportunity. True freshman quarterback Joe Joe Brown, who is being redshirted this year, knows why Woodson is nervous.

"I understand totally how he feels. This offense is difficult to learn," Brown said. "You just have to learn so much, but that's what you have to do to play, so you may as well do it.

"I expect he'll be nervous, but from what I've seen, he's really stepped up this week as far as being in the video room watching film and learning defenses. I feel like he will do a good job, or at least I hope he does."

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