A year ago Penn State kicker Sam Ficken was the main topic of discussion amongst Nittany Lion fans. It was Week 2 last year when Penn State lost 17-16 against the Virginia Cavaliers. In that game, Ficken missed four field goals and also had an extra point blocked. Now, a year removed from that debacle, Ficken is proving to be a very reliable kicker.
Early in the 2012 season many people, including myself, were calling for Ficken to be benched by head coach Bill O’Brien. He began the year being very inconsistent and made just two of his first eight field goal attempts. However, O’Brien stuck with Ficken and the young kicker worked hard to prove that his coach made the correct decision.
After the terrible start, Ficken ended the year by converting on 12 of his final 13 attempts, including 10 in-a-row. The Nittany Lions ended last season with a victory when he kicked an overtime, game-winning field goal to beat the Wisconsin Badgers.
With confidence from a great finish to the 2012 season, Ficken already has a strong start to 2013.
In Week 1 against Syracuse, he hit on all three of this attempts, including a 46-yarder. In Week 2 against Eastern Michigan Ficken made his only attempt, a 39-yarder in the first half. That field goal set a new school record for the most consecutive made kicks. Dating back to last season, Ficken has now converted 14 straight field goals.
In just a year’s time, Ficken has gone from an inconsistent, unreliable kicker, to pretty much automatic for the Nittany Lions. There are no longer any thoughts that he should be benched. It’s a great turn around and a great story that’s still not over yet.