TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It’s called a shank in both sports.
In football, it’s when the punter strikes the ball with the outside of his foot causing it to shoot out to the right like Alabama senior JK Scott did with his 9-yard kick against Florida State two weeks ago.
In golf, it’s what happens when the ball is hit with the heel of the club, causing it to possibly scare away a small animal or maybe dent a tree.
The sports are different, but the cause is usually the same, rushing through to the point of impact. That’s why Scott has been focusing on a tip from one of the biggest names in golf “to take conservative angles but be aggressive with my swing.”
“You know who actually said that was Jordan Spieth,” Scott said. “My friend met Jordan Spieth and asked him for some advice playing golf. He said to take conservative angles but aggressive strokes. That’s been my goal and what I did was take an aggressive angle, which I shouldn’t have.”
Yes, when it comes to kicking and special teams, there is a method to the madness even though most fans don’t give either a second thought about either until something goes wrong. Scott obviously does. A lot.
“JK is a tireless worker,” coach Nick Saban said. “It’s really important to him to do well. If we have any issue with him in terms of his routine, it’s making sure that he doesn’t do too much and that he stays in his routine and can maintain a level of consistency because of it.”
The best punter in Crimson Tide history will have another chance to show why when one of the teams from his home state, Colorado State, visits Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
Man they better give jk Scott more credit. He flips the field like a boss.
— NICO JOHNSON (@JOHNSON35BOY) September 3, 2017
The program’s first serious contender for the Ray Guy Award since being named a finalist as a freshman, Scott’s been selected a second-team All-American by both the Walter Camp Foundation and the American Football Coaches Association, and first-team All-SEC.
And yes, even he has had a couple of shanks, like the one for 8 yards at Ole Miss last season. However, Scott averaged 47.2 yards per punt on 64 attempts, with 25 traveling more than 50 yards, including 6 of 60 yards or more, and 25 landing inside the 20. No one has been better at flipping the field.
He’s averaging 45.9 yards per punt in his career on 198 attempts, the best in Crimson Tide history.
“It’s kind of like being a pitcher,” Scott said about his approach. “You can’t throw every day or you can’t throw the whole practice. So, I can’t kick all practice and I can’t kick every day so you’ve got to figure out how to manage your time.
“I always sit down before the season and plan out each week and there are days where I don’t even kick. There are days I’ll go inside and lift. Pretty much every day there is something I am doing inside, whether it’s Pilates or lift or some type of running, but like cross-training. So you have a lot of opportunities to train and do what you need to do for your body because you have some time to practice.”
Scott is also handling kickoffs, and could be called upon to attempt a long field goal, but neither is nothing new to him. He did all that at Mullen High School in Denver, and has continued to practice both at Alabama.
There are a couple myths Scott would like to dispel: Kickoffs and field goals will mess up his punting, and a football travels significantly different in his home state due to the altitude.
He again turns to other sports to explain why.
“A lot of people don’t really know the physics behind it,” he said. “In golf, there’s a noticeable difference. In baseball, there’s a noticeable difference in hitting. That’s because the faster the ball’s going to go the more the air is going to affect it, the more the wind resistance is going to affect it.
“For punting it really doesn’t affect it that much. I’ll go home and I’ll kick and I’ll come back here and kick and there’s not a very noticeable difference.”
Scott has discussed it with numerous experts … and his sister, especially the physics part.
“She went to Harvard,” he said, before casually mentioning that her major was biomedical engineering.
— #CFAKickoff (@CFAPeachBowl) August 18, 2017
Scott isn’t one of the 12 Crimson Tide players on the roster who has already earned a degree, but his career is getting to the point that there’s not much he hasn’t done.
Making a tackle is among them. The closest Scott came was pushing a returner out of bounds against Auburn last season.
Alabama’s special team players practice tackling once a week, and with the specialists there’s the obvious risk of doing the equivalent of a shank. Scott never gave it much thought until the fourth quarter last week when Fresno State’s Da’Mari Scott broke into open field. Scott was the one who got the kick returner to cut back, with Keith Holcombe dropping him after 63 yards.
“I was like, ‘Dang, this guy might score,’” Scott said. “It’s weird, when he started running, I kinda got a little bit excited. I don’t know why. Maybe go make a play or something.”
— Marq Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) September 13, 2017