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Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

From Starr-struck to Starr-less

IU kicker Austin Starr used to be automatic.

Last season especially. Experts tabbed him as one of the nation’s top kickers. A 40-yarder, a chip shot, it didn’t matter. Every boot was destined to split the uprights.
This year, though, Starr’s golden foot has vanished.

How could a finalist for the Lou Groza award – given to college football’s top kicker – meld into a Mike Vanderjagt? It’s perplexing, I know.

Starr and Vanderjagt were so clutch you could always count on them.

But, Vanderjagt is remembered more for his shank against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2005 AFC Championship game than his nearly flawless career for the Colts.
And as ironic as it seems, Starr is enduring the similar pain in 2008.

Take Saturday night’s game in Illinois, for example.

After Illini quarterback Juice Williams threw for a touchdown on his opening drive, Starr had precious opportunities to keep the Hoosiers close.

He, surprisingly, missed not one, but two kicks in the first quarter from 38 and 45 yards, respectively. Williams took advantage of Starr’s mistakes and tallied another passing touchdown.

Then the game became out of reach.

“I’ve never missed two in a row,” Starr said. “I do know my contribution to the team helps us. I have to look at the past and put it behind me.”

Throughout his career, Starr has established himself as a trendsetter and a guy who sets the Hoosiers up for success.

If he makes those kicks, it changes the whole complexity of the contest.
I’m not proclaiming the Hoosiers would have won, but you must admit, points on the board alter a team’s approach while battling.

Maybe Starr is putting too much pressure on himself?

We all know the offense can’t score as often as last season. Starr, perhaps, is taking too much responsibility for IU’s lack of production.

“Whenever you’re competitive like he is, you’re always going to put pressure on yourself,” linebacker coach and special teams coordinator George Ricumstrict said. “I don’t think anything has changed from his approach or mentality. Sometimes you run into a little bit of bad luck.”

In 2007, Starr only missed two of 23 field goals and nailed every extra point.

Unfortunately for Hoosier fans, Starr isn’t so routine in 2008. In fact, he’s just four of eight from 30-yards-plus this season.

It’s a toss-up whether he’ll make or miss now. Extra points – well, they aren’t guarantees either.

Starr obviously is caught up in this season’s whirlwind of emotions. After last season’s heroics, no one, not even the IU players, thought the program would take this giant leap backwards.

But his first half of the season has been uncharacteristic.

Now there are only five games left. Five games for Starr to regain the kicking legacy he rightfully deserves.

“For myself, I have high expectations, especially after last season,” Starr said.
“I know I’m not playing to my potential, and that’s going to change.”

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