KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – There was nothing wrong with Tennessee kicker Aaron Medley’s leg early last season. The rising junior admitted that the issues were all from the neck up.
“Just mental,” Medley said after Saturday’s practice when asked about the missed field goals last season. “Between the ears for sure. Just going through a season and learning, still in that learning process. It’s different. In the SEC, it’s important to make those kicks when it counts.”
Medley made 21-of-31 field goals last season and converted on all 55 of his extra point attempts. However, it will be three missed field goals against Alabama that fans remember most. Despite the criticism that followed, Medley said he’s ready for a pressure-packed, game-winning field goal attempt this season.
“Anytime that you can get another kick like that in a game situation, it’s awesome,” he said.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones is always there to help ratchet up the pressure. Jones frequently yells at Medley to try to distract him. It’s all about making Medley as mentally tough as possible heading into the 2016 season.
“We’ve challenged him again with accuracy on different hashes,” Jones said. “We’ve tried to have as much competitive situations (in practice). In pressure situations, he’s answered the call. His consistency has continued to get better and better and I think he’s had a very productive spring.”
Said Medley, “I’ve had a really good spring. Just been focusing on finishing down line and really making kicks.”
Medley admitted that he’s had some kicks fade right. His goal is to kick the ball straight no matter where he is positioned on the field, and Medley said he feels comfortable kicking any field goal inside of 55 yards. Despite his struggles, he didn’t seemed worried about the past.
“It’s a short memory,” he said. “Recognize what you did wrong and just kind of go ahead.”
That approach seemed to work for Medley last season. He converted on nine-of-17 field goals in Tennessee’s first seven game. Then, he converted 12-of-14 field goals to close out the season.
“Overall, not too bad,” Medley said when looking back on last season. “First part of the season was inconsistent. Then the last part, really got focused and started making some kicks.”
This year, Medley will need to be consistent from the jump as Tennessee’s coaches expect a faster start to the 2016 campaign.