As the old saying goes; “forgive and forget.” Such a mindset is essential for kickers, who have to have short memories when trying to convert field goals and extra points. Otherwise, missed field goals become infectious, and chip shots become unmanageable. Before you know it, successful drives become empty and points are left out on the field; points that could have led your team to a victory.
For Maryland kicker Brad Craddock, the forgetting part will be rather problematic. After all, it was Craddock’s missed chip shot with two seconds left against NC State that cost Maryland a win. As everyone in Byrd Stadium watched the football clang against the upright, they (along with Edsall and company) saw their chances at a 5-2, 3-0 ACC record quickly vanish. The miss was rather foretelling of Brad Craddock’s freshman year; potential and hope, but just wide right (or left).
Craddock finished his freshman year in College Park converting 10 field goals in 16 attempts, giving him a field goal percentage of 63%. He also missed two extra point attempts, which is the cardinal sin for any kicker. One of the bigger issues was that Craddock’s misses came at the most inopportune times. Football is a game of “what-if’s” so let’s take a look at Craddock’s rap sheet:
His miss against West Virginia would have brought the Terps to within 7, making it a one possession game with time left. His miss (and let’s not forget his extra point blip) against NC State has already been well-documented. His miss against Boston College would have given the Terps a 7 point lead, undoubtedly leading to overtime against the Eagles. Furthermore, his misses against William & Mary, Wake Forest and Virginia could also have been detrimental. Although the Terps prevailed with a win, each opponent had possession late in the fourth quarter for a possible last second field goal or touchdown to give them the win.
The good news for Craddock is that football is also a game of forgiving (or more accurately, what have you done for me lately). Craddock has a chance to redeem himself this season and his teammates and coaches are giving him every opportunity to put his freshman year behind him. Perhaps we as fans expected too much of the Aussie from Down Under. After all, it was his first year in the United States, as well as his first year playing organized football. He obviously has the leg strength that Maryland kickers have been lacking since Nick Novak in 2004. A positive sign is that short field goal attempts troubled him the most, but he converted his last two field goal attempts in 2012, both under 40 yards (not to mention converting his last 8 extra point attempts).
There is plenty of room for improvement, but as Craddock gets more comfortable in the United States and more at ease with his teammates and coaches, he has a chance to make his sophomore season a success. His accomplishments could certainly lead to a successful 2013 season for Maryland. If he is able to achieve that feat, Terps fans will be more than willing to forgive and forget.