With one second left to go in the 2013 Iron Bowl, Alabama football fans were expecting a Hail Mary to win the game, but instead, Saban chose to put in freshman kicker Adam Griffith. Prior to the Iron Bowl, Griffith was able to kick 60-yard field goals in practice, so Saban’s choice to bring in Griffith to kick the potential game winner wasn’t a shocker. Although Griffith’s kick, as we all know, was a tad bit short, his kick actually showed something the TV couldn’t show — potential.
Think about it. How many times does a redshirt freshman get to come in to one of the biggest games of the year and have the opportunity to kick the game winning field goal? Very rarely, if ever. Saban’s decision to allow Griffith to kick showed just how much faith he had in Griffith. With an entire offseason to prepare for the starting position as this year’s go-to field goal kicker, there is no doubt that Griffith will have an outstanding career in 2014.
Over the past few years, Alabama has struggled with its kicking game. In 2011, Alabama’s kicker Cade Foster only made 22% of his kicks. In 2012, he made 44%; in 2013, he improved to 70%. Some people look at those numbers and see misses, but if you look closely, you see drastic improvements each season, showing that Saban can do the same with Griffith. In 2013, Griffith went 1 of 3 as a redshirt freshman.
This season, Griffith is the tool that can help kick the Tide’s kicking game into a new gear. Griffin will also handle kickoff duties this year, and short kickoffs were a major problem for Alabama over the last few years- Alabama was at or near the bottom in touchbacks. Several times teams started their offensive series outside the 35-yard line which put Alabama’s defense against a wall. In practice Griffin has shown his leg strength by blasting kickoffs through the back of the end zone. Griffin has a stronger leg than Foster which will result in more touchbacks and take the pressure off of the kickoff team.
Several games in past seasons could have been won with made field goals. With Griffith as the new go-to kicker, the Tide can ‘kick off’ its season with a revitalized confidence in its kicking game.