Thanking another year of Will Reichard

There was a time when Alabama football fans’ biggest anxiety was leaving a game in the hands of a kicker. The list of bad memories the field goal drive has been associated with is long.

Alabama Football: Kicking Problems

There was Alabama’s 9-6 overtime loss to LSU in the 2011 regular season. Of course, the Tide avenged the loss in the national championship game, but the memory of the first matchup remains bitter for the base of fans. Alabama made just two of six field goal attempts in what was, at the time, a monumental game.

Perhaps the scariest memory is the 2013 Iron Bowl, in which Alabama missed all four of its field goal attempts in a 34-28 loss. Cade Foster, who was the scapegoat for the 2011 LSU game after making just one of four attempts, missed all three of his attempts in the 2013 Iron Bowl. This, along with a host of other Alabama setbacks, allowed Auburn to return to the game and set up Adam Griffith to attempt a long game-winning field goal. Griffith can hardly be blamed for missing the 57-yard kick, but a member of the field goal unit that pushed Chris Davis out of bounds shouldn’t have been too much to ask.

In the 2017 national championship game, Andy Pappanastos nearly cost Alabama a title in disastrous fashion. After missing a kick early in the game, Pappanastos initially did well to redeem himself. The kicker made a pair of field goals in the second half to put the Tide in position to win the game. However, given the chance to be the hero, Pappanastos missed a shot late in regulation to the dismay of Alabama fans everywhere. Of course, this miss would set the stage for one of the greatest plays in college football history, but it reinforced the belief that Alabama’s kickers were somehow cursed.

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In the 2019 Iron Bowl, with Alabama still holding on to college football playoff hopes, the field goal drive cost the Tide once again. At the end of what was already a bizarre game, Joseph Bulovas missed a 30-yard attempt that potentially would have forced overtime, and the Tide lost 48-45.

Bulovas was there in large part because of an injury to then-true freshman kicker Will Reichard, a highly touted recruit who was supposed to be the man to end Alabama’s kicking woes.

Alabama football: Reichard brings stability

Reichard, the following year, was finally healthy and seized the starting position. The sophomore lived up to the promise and generally put Alabama football fans at ease. He was the icing on the cake for Alabama’s dominant 2020 team that went undefeated and won a national championship. Reichard finished the season 14-14 in shooting from the field, 84-84 in extra points and was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award. Most of the Tide’s games weren’t competitive in 2020, but Reichard made big kicks in wins over Georgia and Florida.

Last season, Reichard’s streak of perfection ended, but he remained an effective weapon for the Tide. He finished the season 22-28 in shooting and 71-72 in PAT. More importantly, he didn’t cost Alabama a game. In a year when Alabama seemed to be biting its nails every Saturday, Reichard’s consistency of performance was critical.

Will Reichard returns in 2022 for his senior year, and for at least another year, Alabama football fans won’t have to break a sweat every time the field goal team takes the field.

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