For the first time since Leigh Tiffin, Alabama football has an all-around, excellent kicker.
Will Reichard, a sophomore, was one of three finalists named for the Lou Groza Award. He has been recognized for the national honor of being the best placekicker in college football; however, Reichard did not make an All-SEC team for his efforts.
A former three-star recruit via Hoover High School, he was overlooked by the Southeastern Conference.
Despite the Crimson Tide not needing him to kick a lot, Reichard made the most of every opportunity and was perfect on the season for field goals and PAT (point after touchdown) attempts. Cade York (LSU) was selected first-team and Anders Carlson (Auburn) was named second-team by the SEC. Harrison Mevis (Missouri) made the SEC’s All-Freshman team.
Both York (18-for-21) and Carlson (18-for-20) missed at least one field goal try.
Not only was Reichard perfect, but he had a couple of impactful kicks. He made two critical field goals versus Georgia at Bryant-Denny Stadium in one of the biggest games of the year.
The Bulldogs had a 14-7 lead on the Crimson Tide, until Reichard hit a 33-yard attempt to snatch some momentum. Prior to halftime, Georgia was up 24-17 and the confident kicker was called on again.
This time, Reichard boomed a 52-yarder through the uprights. He had Tide fans overjoyed, as Alabama trailed 24-20 at the half yet it took the momentum back. His effort on the kick was part of a 10-point swing for Nick Saban and company, especially with Mac Jones finding Jaylen Waddle for a 90-yard in the third quarter. The connection gave the Tide a 27-24 lead and went on to capture a 41-24 victory. If Reichard does not make two kicks, the matchup could have easily went to Georgia on the road.
Although it would get a 52-3 win over Arkansas, Alabama struggled on its first offensive possession.
Najee Harris could not maintain his balance and the Tide could not score a touchdown. Reichard started the game with a 45-yard field goal.
People look at DeVonta’s Smith 84-yard punt return touchdown and though it set the tone, Reichard’s kick pushed Alabama to an early advantage. In the SEC Championship Game, he made a 20-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
The significance of the kick was that it pushed the Tide to a 14-point lead (45-31) against Florida.
If Reichard missed the attempt, the score remains at 42-31 (11-point lead) and the Gators would have had a chance to win its first SEC title since 2008. He made all 12 of his field goals and all 73 of his PAT’s, but it was not enough.
The Alabama faithful truly appreciated his performance; nevertheless, it does hurt to see a kicker that achieved perfection not be recognized by his conference.
It has been a while since Alabama’s had a kicker it can depend on. In the departure of Jeremy Shelley in 2012, the Tide went through Cade Foster, Adam Griffith, Andy Pappanastos, Joseph Bulovas and Austin Jones. Each one was inconsistent and all compelled Alabama fans to assume the worst on special teams. Reichard had been the complete opposite, and fans love it.
He not only said he would ‘fix the kicking woes,’ but he has truly done it at Alabama.
Reichard will be motivated to prove the SEC wrong next season.
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