LSU’s Alleman seeks improvement
LSU place-kicker Drew Alleman said his goal for his senior season is to be perfect.
In the abstract that might sound unattainable, but when you do the math the way Alleman has, it seems attainable.
“Last year I was 16-of-18 (on field goals),” Alleman said after practice Monday. “Obviously I feel like I had a good year. I am proud of 16-of-18. Obviously I’d like to be 18-of-18 like all kickers, but I believe I conquered a goal I wanted to do my first year (as a starter).
“Every kicker wants to be accurate, but I want to come in here and try to be perfect. I’m setting my goal to be perfect. It’s hard to do and I know it’s hard to do but it’s a task I want to accomplish. I’m going to set a higher goal this year and try (to) conquer that. We’ll see where I end up at the end of the season.”
Alleman wasn’t that far from being perfect last season even though it was the first time he had kicked field goals in games in three years, dating to his senior season at Acadiana High School. “I had been waiting a little while,” he understated.
The imperfections came on a 50-yarder in the second game of the season against Northwestern State and a 30-yarder two weeks later at West Virginia. And, Alleman will be the first to point out, he also missed an extra point in the season opener against Oregon, his only miss in 63 PATs.
“I was a little nervous for that first one at Oregon,” he said. “I was proud that I learned from that extra point. I was able to focus back in the rest of the year, and it kind of showed.”
It showed as Alleman made his last 10 field goals, including all three attempts — from 19, 30 and 25 — to provide all the scoring in the Tigers’ 9-6 victory at Alabama on Nov. 3, the last one ending the game on LSU’s first overtime possession.
The streak also included field goals from 35 and 23 yards against Florida, 18 against Tennessee, 36 against Auburn, 29 against Ole Miss and 21 and 37 against Arkansas.
Alleman said the game at Alabama was the first one in which he felt 100 percent healthy after suffering a sprained medial collateral ligament in his kicking leg on the opening kickoff against Oregon in the season opener.
“It affected me strengthwise for the first six or seven games,” Alleman said.
After three games, the Tigers decided to take the red-shirt off freshman kicker James Hairston to let him handle kickoffs against West Virginia, and he handled them for the rest of the season.
“He stepped in and did a great job last season,” Alleman said of Hairston. “And he has a strong leg.
Hairston remains the primary kickoff person, though Alleman said the Tigers’ kickers are experimenting with “all different kind of kicks” now that kickoffs have been moved from the 30-yard line to the 35. The change makes it more likely that kickers will be able to get touchbacks, but teams might find it advantageous in certain situations to try directional kicks and especially high kicks with a shorter trip down the field for the coverage team. So Alleman is getting ready just in case.
So far Alleman has been ready whenever called upon. He was ready at the start of last season when he succeeded All-America kicker Josh Jasper. He was ready on Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., when the top-ranked Tigers needed him to hold off the second-ranked Crimson Tide. Presumably he was ready when LSU and Bama met in a rematch in the BCS title game Jan. 9, but he never got a chance to kick in the Tide’s 21-0 victory.
Alleman said he has taken the same approach to that game as he did to each of his kicks, both good and bad.
“You have to remember, whether it’s a win or a loss,” Alleman said. “You have to be able to put it behind you and move on and learn from it, and that’s what I did. I learned from my success and I also learned from the failures. You move on to make yourself a better kicker.”
Perhaps even a perfect one.