Head Coach Ralph Friedgen has announced that Maryland placekicker Obi Egekeze will remain the starting kicker despite his 0/5 performance thus far this year on field goal attempts. This is according to Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post, who also says that RB Da'Rel Scott practiced the last two days but is still listed as questionable.
Why is Ralph sticking with Obi? Stop me if you've heard this before, but apparently Obi has been practicing well this week. I guess Jordan Steffy is now wears a Egekeze jersey. I'll say this about kickers - they have to have ice running through their veins. Obi, like many kickers, has the talent to put the ball through the uprights - he did so fairly well last year. But if you're a kicker and something slips into your mind like "I can't miss again" then you end up missing. Its similar to making a put in golf - if you tell yourself you're going to miss, what happens? You miss!
I think it's great that Obi has been kicking well in practice, hopefully that can rebuild his confidence and allow him to start making kicks in games. But my question then becomes this - if Obi is having problems dealing with the pressure of just making a kick during a game, will he be able to come through if the Terps are down by 2 with 3 seconds left and we're relying on him win the game for us? Let's hope so.
Obi's struggles haven't really hurt us yet. He missed 3 against Delaware that would have really put the game out of reach for the Blue Hens, he missed one that would have tied the game at 10 against Middle Tennessee St., and he missed one against Cal that would have slammed the door on the Golden Bears. I don't think his miss against Middle Tennessee State cost us the game by any means, but it could have. Same thing for the UD and Cal games as well. We've been lucky so far, but if Obi keeps struggling, we're going to find ourselves in a game where a missed kick by him meant the difference between a win and a loss. Maybe even an extra point for that matter.
Listen, I like Obi. He's an outstanding Terp. But he needs to gain his confidence back, which is what I assume Ralph is trying to do by sticking with him. But if he struggles against Eastern Michigan, maybe Ralph needs to take a new approach and start another kicker to force Obi to get better and show him we can't keep standing around waiting for him to improve.
Let's hope Obi comes through (the uprights) on Saturday.