Superstitious people believe that bad things come to three. If so, BYU kicker Jake Oldroyd should be on a big Saturday night against Wyoming.
For the first time in a career that began by beating the winner of the game against Arizona in 2016, Oldroyd has missed three consecutive field goal attempts, and while BYU has reopened the kicking competition this week, this is no time to give him. I love it – but it’s getting closer.
Oldroyd scored four consecutive field goals to start the season, but two late-game mistakes against Baylor and another one last week in Oregon forced him to kick on thin ice.
Coach Kalani Sitake has no choice but to give backup kicker Justen Smith more reps in practice. Smith was admirable last season when Oldroyd was out for four games with lower back problems. Sandy’s red jersey freshman connected on 14 of 15 attempts and two of three field goal attempts, with 40 yards longer than him against Arizona.
Oldroyd is a junior in a red jersey with a history of consistency. Last season he scored 9 out of 13 field goals, including 6 out of 7 between 30 and 39 yards. In 2020, he was a perfect 13 out of 13 and scored all three of his attempts from 50 yards or more. Oldroyd was ranked second for the Lou Groza Award honoring the nation’s best collegiate kickers.
Also in 2019, his first year after a two-year church mission, Oldroyd connected on 16 of 24, including 2 of 2 by 50 yards or more. The eight mistakes are troubling, but he has never missed three in a row, until now.
So what should BYU do? Make him sit down and let him think about things or put him on the line Saturday night and let him rip one through the uprights? Sometimes the more a person thinks about his problems, the worse they become.
Wyoming and the state of Utah are not Baylor and Oregon. The margin of error will be greater in the next two games. Oldroyd has earned a chance to rediscover himself. However, with Notre Dame and Arkansas on the horizon, he has to fix things quickly or give up his job.
Football is a game of results. Coaches are hired and fired based on wins and losses. Oldroyd delivered Sitake’s first win at BYU in 2016 with a 33-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to beat Arizona, 18-16.
To say he’s been around is an understatement. Oldroyd kicked quarterbacks Taysom Hill, Tanner Mangum, Zach Wilson, Baylor Romney and Jaren Hall. He scored 45 field goals and is a perfect 5 of 5 over 50 yards.
This funk he’s in is particularly odd considering all three mistakes were 39 yards or less. Against Baylor he threw both left kicks. Saturday in Oregon, he made a bad mistake on the right. In all three kicks, the snap and hold were perfect.
Oldroyd is physically fine. This is a problem that is upstairs and which makes it difficult to cure. If he gets the hook this week, he might not be back on the court. Kickers are difficult to read. However, with a little more time and a few more attempts, perhaps the demons that haunt him will dissipate.
After all, the most important kick for a kicker is his neighbor. They play in a position where judgment is quick and not always pleasant, but they also do work that can determine the outcome with their foot and their foot only.
Fortunately for BYU, Oldroyd’s mistakes didn’t cost them the win over Baylor and his mistake on Saturday, while it stifled the team’s momentum in the second quarter, didn’t affect the Cougars failing to stop the Ducks. to score on their first six possessions.
Then no. 19 BYU (2-1) kicks off against Wyoming (3-1) Saturday night (8:15 pm MDT, ESPN2) with some drama in the soccer position. Oldroyd’s welcome from fans will be interesting when he is proud of the field with the unit in the basket. Do fans boo BYU’s inability to change him for Smith, or do they beef him up a few more times as he works through the knots in his kicks?
Sitake is too wise not to give him every chance to bounce, but he also knows he can’t wait much longer. Oldroyd has two games to fix things. He earned extra time. However, when the Cougars travel to Las Vegas to face Notre Dame on Oct. 18, the time for field goal betting will be over.
It is up to Oldroyd to keep his job and if the bad news really comes in three, like his three missed field goals, he is bound to bounce back on Saturday night.
Dave McCann is a Deseret News contributor and is the studio guest on “BYU Sports Nation Game Day”, “The Post Game Show”, “After Further Review” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv. He is also co-host of “Y’s Guys” in ysguys.com.