Twenty-eight yards may never seem daunting until a four hour-long game is on the line and 43,048 eyes are all focused on you. Tied 49-49 in double overtime against Oregon in 2016, all the pressure was on the kicker, then-redshirt junior Matt Anderson. Make the kick – hero. Miss the kick – you let your team down, you let your fans down. Offset to the left of the uprights, Anderson scorched the ball – “It’s good!” – the Bears win 52-49.
Cal football may not be the strongest team in the Pac-12, but its kicking staff is top-rate and ranks among the best in the conference.
On kickoff Anderson, now a redshirt senior, will likely be the starter, but is also listed as interchangeable with redshirt freshman Gabe Siemieniec. Anderson did not see any appearances on kickoff in 2016, but he averaged 56 yards per game in 2015 and has experience at the position.
One might overlook kickoff, but as the stadium rumbles and the student section gradually yells, “Ooooooohh!” in preparation for the pigskin to fly across the field, kickoff is hugely responsible for the setting the tone of every drive.
Cal was the worst team in the Pac-12 in 2016 on kickoff coverage, and this is an area where the team must improve to be able to compete in such a stacked conference. Giving opposing team unfavorable starting field position is going to be essential in 2017.
Anderson will not only lead kickoff, but he is also the projected starter at placekicker which is really where he thrives.
Let’s talk statistics.
Anderson led the Pac-12 in scoring among kickers with 117 points after kicking 22 field goals and going 51/51 on PATs. He was responsible for just over a fourth of Cal’s points in 2016 and he will be a key factor in the Bears’ offense in the upcoming season.
Cal football is no stranger to blowouts, and many of the team’s losses in 2016 came in the form of double digits, but if the Bears’ defense can sack up on the other side of the ball, and keep games closer, Anderson could be the make-or-break decision in many of Cal’s contests. Siemieniec will be the second-string placekicker.
The punt game is crucial to any football team and Cal’s projected starter, redshirt junior Dylan Klumph has the Bears in trusted hands – or trusted feet, for that matter. After only one year of suiting up as Bear, Klumph is going into 2017 at the top of Cal’s all-time list in punting averages.
Klumph was second overall in punting the Pac-12 in 2016 and averaged 44.8 yards per punt. He will also see action on the field as the placeholder for Anderson. In a one-two punch, much of Anderson’s success as a kicker will depend on Klumph’s foundation as a holder. At second string, redshirt sophomore Matt Abramo will be the only punter behind Klumph.
Redshirt sophomore Grant Gluhaich is the projected starting long snapper and will be responsible for getting the ball to Klumph or Abramo. Gluhaich has not seen playing time up until this point in his Cal career and will be thrown right into the mix with a very crucial job come September. After all, a kicker can’t do his job if he doesn’t get the ball in a quick, clean and sharp manner.