MacGinnis locked and loaded for 2016


Kicker Austin McGinnis poses during the University of Kentucky Football media day on Friday, August 5, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Chris Angolia

When UK struggled to finish offensively at the end of last season, it was not just the running and passing game. The kicking game was a part of those hurdles as well.

After a strong freshman campaign, kicker Austin MacGinnis struggled in 2015 due to injuries. Although his percentage was good, he did not produce nearly as much as he did in 2014 as a freshman when MacGinnis broke the school record for most field goals at 21.

Many coaches have placed an emphasis on special teams with the kicking game in particular. Thus without a good kicker, which MacGinnis is when he is healthy, teams can be handicapped in that aspect of the game and it can become very noticeable.

“I think people just realize how important having good specialists is,” MacGinnis noted about his absence.

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When it comes to the SEC in particular, specialists are crucial to a team’s success. The success that the Cats had in 2014 was due in part to MacGinnis’ ability to come through in the clutch.

As for 2016, things are already trending upward when it comes to the health of their kicker. This will only benefit the team moving forward. All things however, start with the health of MacGinnis, which according to him, is in a good place.

“I’m confident and I’m healthy so that’s the biggest factor,” MacGinnis said.

With his 13 field goals in 2015, the Alabama native will be looking to take a big jump for the Cats. He will help make special teams coach Matt House’s job that much easier. Not only does it help Coach House and allow him to focus on the punter competition, but Coach Stoops has been vocal about how MacGinnis has progressed coming off of last year.

“Austin looked good, he kicked the ball good, he hit quite a few field goals, and he kicked off today. He certainly was stronger and looked better,” Stoops said after the Cats’ final scrimmage a few weeks ago.

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As time progresses, things with MacGinnis are going to continually progress, but that is not to be understated when it comes to the kickoff game as Stoops had mentioned.

“But I know we will have a great kickoff unit if Austin (MacGinnis) stays healthy and kicks the ball well,” Stoops said in his Monday press conference.

There is a common theme here and that is health, and if MacGinnis can stay healthy, the Cats will be in good shape in not only the kicking game, but special teams as a whole.