I know that many of you were looking forward to seeing UCLA starting punter Luke Akers in the Holiday Bowl, but unfortunately, it was not to be. Akers, who handled every punt for UCLA this season, entered the transfer portal after the team’s regular-season finale.
The Bruins do not appear to have a back-up punter, and at any rate, Chip Kelly dodged questions earlier this week about who would be his punter in the bowl game—this is very serious business—and so this is a matter at least worth keeping an eye on.
Placekicker Nicholas Barr-Mira (career punt attempts: none) would seem the obvious choice to assume the emergency duties, but UCLA also has a kickoff specialist, so who knows, maybe it will be that guy (career punt attempts by that guy: also none).
Now, kicking a football is not an inherently difficult procedure. Hell, a baby could kick a football! There are probably babies kicking footballs every day, when you think about how many babies there are out there.
But when you’re forced to involve your hands in the matter, and there’s a bunch of guys running right at you—and there’s a guy throwing you the ball from under his butt? when did that start???—and further there are thousands of people watching you and only you, then, well, complications may occur if you don’t have any experience with this specific scenario.
I’m not saying this will be a big deal. UCLA didn’t do a lot of punting this year, anyway. But then again!
(Probably should also mention that Akers was the team’s holder.)