Florida K Austin Hardin’s struggles leave Gators feeling helpless
When asked about Florida’s kicking game Monday, coach Jim McElwain looked at the reporter in the eye.
“What are you doing this afternoon?” McElwain said.
Unfortunately for the Gators, the reporter already had plans.
“Dang,” McElwain said. “I thought maybe you might give us a shot.”
It’s been that kind of season for No. 8 Florida. Starting Gators kicker Austin Hardin has made 5 of 11 field goals and missed three extra points this season.
Hardin’s struggles continued Saturday against FAU, as he missed both of his field goal attempts — a 33-yard attempt and a 34-yard attempt — and had a crucial extra point blocked in overtime.
“He’s our kicker and we support him,” McElwain said. “He has to go out there and make it. Let’s face it, the one that was blocked there in overtime, I think the guy blocked it with his armpit. It’s not like it was any incredible feat. You put your plant foot there, you kick the ball and it goes up in the air and it goes through the goal posts.”
While Florida’s kicking game hasn’t been reliable, the punting game has. Johnny Townsend is ranked 25th nationally, averaging 43.8 yards per punt.
“I never have,” McElwain said when asked if he’s ever been part of a team with such a big disparity between its kicking and punting games. “I never have at all. This is beyond me.”