There are no certainties in college football and Boston College, which will open its Atlantic Coast Conference season at Alumni Stadium on Friday night against Wake Forest, knows that as much as anyone.
But one chip that new BC football coach Steve Addazio has in his pocket, should the Eagles get inside their opponents 30 yard line, is that he has points on the board.
The reason is kicker Nate Freese.
A year ago, the 6-foot-0, 185 pound senior converted on 18 of his 20 field goal attempts, including 15 of 15 attempts from 20 to 39 yards out. Freese was also good on 2 of 3 from 40 to 49 yards, which made the Eagles a lock for points almost every time they were in an extended red zone.
It was one of the reasons why Addazio cautioned BC Offensive Coordinator Ryan Day on his play calling when the Eagles went into Villanova territory in last week’s 24-14 come-from-behind win last week.
“”I said, “Hey Ryan, we have points here. Be careful with what you call,” said Addazio earlier this week. “”With a guy (Freese) like that, the last thing you want to do is get inside field goal range. You have to have a mind-set of “Don’t give away points. That’s how I view it. If affects the calls you make (on offense). You want to utilize your weapons.”
This season, Day has another weapon which can help BC. He handles the punting and kick off duties for the Eagles.
In Saturday’s win over Villanova, Freese hit a 39 yard field goal, put four of his five kickoffs deep into or out of the end zone for no returns and punted four times for an average of 38.5 yards
The punting duties are new this season and Freese is delighted to receive more work.
“”The games go a lot faster,” he said. “It gives me a chance to get a little more stretched out. And I’m even more into the game.”
Freese spent part of his summer working with a kicking coach in Florida. “We kicked every day,” he said. “Punting, kick offs, field goals. I also worked out with a personal trainer. It was all good.”
Freese–who once said he kicked a 69 yard field goal in practice in high school–has evolved asa player and a person since he arrived at The Heights in 2009. After redshirting a season, he blossomed in his freshman season, hitting 22 of 25 field goals. He tailed off a bit his sophomore season, making only 10 of 16, but picked up his accuracy level a year ago.
Now he is on track to be one of the most accurate kickers in BC and ACC history.
His mind-set about his kicking remains the same. “Never get too high or too low,” said Freese, a philosophy which carried him through some dark moments in his sophomore year after a missed field goal against Duke.
Punting has helped him focus more quickly on the task at hand. “Not only does it make the game go quicker,” said Freese. “But it does help you in the flow of the game, knowing the situations you will face and just being ready to go.”
Freese knows all about Wake Forest, having kicked four field goals against Wake last season in what turned into a 27-19 loss.
Freese could very well be the difference Friday night or later on this season as the Eagles deal with the tougher reality of converting red zone opportunities into points.
And while nothing is guaranteed, having Freese available should mean that the points will show up on the scoreboard whenever he is asked to do his job.
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