Nick Saban can be as upset as he wants in terms of seeing fans of Alabama football leave Bryant-Denny Stadium before a game ends; however, the cause for Bama nation’s disappointment continues to lie on the third aspect of football: the kicking game.
Austin Jones, a graduate transfer from Temple, was brought in during the summer to compete with redshirt freshman Joseph Bulovas for the job.
Some issues early on with Bulovas granted Jones the opportunity to impress the coaching staff, but he missed an extra point try against Louisville and the kicks he did make lacked perfect form. As rough as former placekicker Adam Griffith’s career was (2012-16), fans never worried about him missing extra points.
The booing of Jones grew louder against Arkansas State, as the individual who had missed just two chip shots throughout his time at Temple — 102 of 104 XP’s made — doinked a pair of attempts off the goal post.
Like he did in the national championship matchup versus Georgia, Saban made a switch that benefitted the team and kept his blood pressure from skyrocketing.
Bulovas, a native of Louisiana, came in off the bench and nailed all five of his point after touchdown tries. The three-star recruit would also put in a 39-yard attempt, pushing the Crimson Tide to a 43-7 advantage in the third quarter.
Following the game, Saban mentioned in his presser that all specialists needed to step up and he thought Bulovas did a great job upon entering the game.
“When you missed two extra points, that’s not a good thing,” Saban said. “Those two guys (Jones and Bulovas) have been in close competition the whole time. I think it has a lot to do with confidence and when you lose your confidence, things don’t go right. We still have confidence in both guys. We just got to get their minds right so, they can have the confidence themselves to do it… But, I thought Joe kicked off well and did a good job kicking the field goals and extra points.”
While social media had its moments of jabbing Jones and celebrating Bulovas, sources close to Touchdown Alabama Magazine confirmed after the matchup on the latter being the starter on field goals moving forward.
“Joe needed that game for his confidence,” sources said.
“The team went with Austin in the first game, but after seeing him miss three extra points, Coach Saban wanted to see a make, the team wanted to see a made kick and the fans as well. When Joe watched the ball go through, he came to the sideline and smiled. He had a little bounce to his step and moving forward, he will be the guy for this team.”
Prior to facing the Red Wolves, Bulovas had a stellar performance in Alabama’s spring game — making five of seven field goals. He and the Tide open conference play this week against Ole Miss.