Apparently the Minnesota Vikings’ special teams coordinator has found the problem at the root of Blair Walsh’s senior slump last year. In a few words, Walsh was rushing the kicks.
He was rushing every kick,” Priefer said. “Every kick he missed, he hit them well, but he was much too fast with his get off time. I don’t know if that was what he was coached to do, maybe that’s what he wanted to do.
If that’s the case, bully for the Vikes. Walsh is a good kicker with a big leg, and he’ll be a capable pro if that diagnosis is correct and the problem addressed.
Of course the “if” is the key. The thing is that I remember reading last fall that another kicking expert had spotted and fixed the flaw in Walsh’s mechanics. “I was coming too much in at the ball rather than up-field with it,” Walsh admitted. “I just fixed it.” Walsh’s inconsistencies remained after that mid-season meeting with his “swing doctor.”
This Minnesota story got a lot of attention over the weekend most likely for Priefer’s comment, “I don’t know if that was what he was coached to do.” Special teams have been, put generously, a mixed bag for Georgia recently. A popular suggestion raised long before Walsh’s senior season has been to appoint a dedicated special teams coordinator, and the implied “what the heck are they coaching kickers to do in Athens?” from a pro coach has re-opened the question for many people.
Minnesota’s Priefer might be right, and hopefully it’s just a question of timing. Then again, it’s probably not something so obvious. Successful kicking instructor Nick Gancitano saw something else. The only placekicker in the College Football Hall of Fame had a vested interest in the success of the kicking game, and surely he would have pointed it out to Walsh if it were merely something so basic as rushing the kick. Walsh had three pretty good years using the mechanics with which he arrived in Athens, so it’s likely that the Georgia staff didn’t suggest very many changes.
Whatever was up with Walsh, I hope he’s able to sort them out either through coaching or through his own discovery. Those who have coached and observed him mean well and probably have valid pointers, but Walsh will have to be careful not to fall into something like the classic “analysis paralysis” that plagues so many advanced golfers who end up overthinking each element of their swing.