Sid Hartman: Blair Walsh excels so far filling kicker shoes

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 18, 2012 - 9:22 PM

And as important as his field goal accuracy is, the fact that Walsh has consistently put kickoffs into the end zone is also significant.

hide

Blair Walsh kicked a field goal for the Vikings on Friday night against the Buffalo Bills, one of five he made in six attempts. The Vikings went out on a limb, handing the rookie the job and releasing Ryan Longwell, but Walsh has done well in preseason.

Photo: Genevieve Ross, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Mike Priefer might have put his job on the line when the Vikings special teams coach convinced General Manager Rick Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier to release a great placekicker in Ryan Longwell and put the job in the hands of a rookie named Blair Walsh, who was coming off a bad senior season at Georgia.

But so far, Priefer has watched Walsh make good on two field goals against the 49ers and five of six against the Bills. So right now, he should be hailed as a hero of the coaching staff.

And as important as his field goal accuracy is, the fact that Walsh has consistently put kickoffs into the end zone is also significant. Walsh, who will be paid $390,000 compared to Longwell's 2012 contract of $2.6 million, talked about the great relationship he developed with Priefer before the Vikings drafted him in the sixth round.

"He came down to Athens [Ga.] about three times and worked me out and I saw him at the combine," Walsh said. "We had a good relationship, and we hit it off.

"He had talked about the possibility about drafting me, but obviously he couldn't promise me or tell me anything. I knew that whatever was going to happen was going to be based on my workouts and my combine performances and my overall career at Georgia."

Walsh said he was ecstatic when he was drafted.

"It was definitely surprising to see that they let Ryan go," Walsh said. "He's been such a big part of this franchise for so many years, and I have nothing but respect for him and his abilities. It was a nice vote of confidence to have me come into camp as the only kicker to get the most reps I can get. I just need to continue to show them that I'm capable of being a starting kicker for this team.

"I know I've said it before and it's kind of cliché, but I have to keep competing against myself each and every day to get better. I can't get complacent with anything I do. I need to be ready to go and 100 percent confident by the time this season starts."

How does Walsh explain that he had such a great junior year, when he was good on 20 of 23 attempts, but then his senior year saw him slump and hit just 21 of 35?

"When I came here in the spring after I got drafted, they just slowed me down and tweaked my form a little bit and it has been working for me so far," he said.

Walsh credits snapper Cullen Loeffler and holder Chris Kluwe for his early success.

"It took me a little while to get used to holding with somebody new, because I had the same holder for about four years at Georgia," Walsh said. "But Chris Kluwe is an awesome holder and he really works hard at what he does, and I think he takes pride in being a great holder. So far, we've been working great together and the whole rhythm from Cullen to him to me has been good so far."

As for the pressure on a rookie kicker who will be released if he doesn't produce, Walsh said: "There's pressure no matter what, it doesn't matter who I'd be succeeding. But this is the NFL, there's only 32 of us that kick the ball as a profession, and you have to be ready each and every day and have 110 percent focus and perform."

Walsh might be a factor in the Vikings winning a lot more games than expected.

Kill high on quarterback Gray

Gophers football coach Jerry Kill notes that quarterback MarQueis Gray came back from a ligament tear last year, and now that his knee is even stronger, he should have a great season.

"The way he was out there running full speed and making cuts on a dime last year, he looked great," Kill said. "I feel like he is going to have a great year. Also he's going to help [receiver] Jamel Harbison out and both of those guys should be able to help us out this year."

Speaking about the improvement in talent on the team this year, Kill said: "We're taking a program from the ground up, and it takes some time, but we've certainly improved athletically and I'm pleased the way our kids to this point are giving effort and trying to get better."

Williams files appeal

Attorneys who represent Jimmy Williams filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court on Friday for another hearing to try to overturn the decision that court made earlier this month in his case against the University of Minnesota.

The court overturned decisions in favor of Williams that found he had quit his Oklahoma State job believing he had been hired as men's basketball assistant to Tubby Smith, only to have then-Gophers athletic director Joe Maturi overrule the hiring. Four justices removed themselves from the case because of their ties to the U, and two acting justices were appointed to hear it. Williams' lawyers believe they deserve another hearing.

Jottings

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said he is patient with the progress being made on the team's new stadium, with the first big move to be made sometime in September when the architect for the building is named.

Glen Taylor, the Timberwolves owner who has made many mission trips to foreign lands with Bill Austin of Starkey Hearing Technolgies to give out free hearing aids, is now on a two-week mission to China to do some charity work.

Former Gophers associate athletic director Jeff Schemmel is managing director of the college division of JMI Sports, where he recommends the hiring of college coaches. Schemmel said that Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague was very highly rated as a candidate for many jobs before he chose to take the position here.

In 2007, when the Vikings drafted Tyler Thigpen in the seventh round out of Coastal Carolina, the quarterback was one of the standouts in training camp. But the Vikings tried to sneak Thigpen through waivers and Kansas City claimed him, making for a very unhappy Vikings coaching staff. Well, Thigpen completed eight of 15 passes against the Vikings on Friday for 56 yards for Buffalo, the fourth team he has been with since he was drafted.

The Las Vegas oddsmakers don't pick any of the four local pro teams to be very successful this year. The Vikings are 100-1 longshots to win the Super Bowl; the Twins opened at 80-1 and current odds are 1,000-1 for them to make the playoffs; the Timberwolves are 75-1 to win the title; and the Wild is 18-1.

While the sale of student tickets has been very slow for Gophers football, the word is that the Aspire Group that was hired to sell public season tickets has sold 500 new packages to different firms.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa Bay - WP: J. McGee 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Morrow 5
Cleveland - LP: B. Shaw 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 6
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: E. Volquez 7
Miami - WP: A. DeSclafani 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 4
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Garza 9
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 8 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 4
Minnesota - WP: T. May 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 4
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 10
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 6 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 1
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 6 FINAL
Arizona - WP: Z. Spruill 8
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: C. Young 0
NY Yankees 1 Top 7th Inning
Baltimore 1
Miami 10 FINAL
Buffalo 29
Jacksonville 10 FINAL
Washington 41
Dallas 26 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Arizona 25 FINAL
NY Giants 14
New England 30 FINAL
Minnesota 7
New Orleans 24 FINAL
Cleveland 26
Atlanta 10 FINAL
Cincinnati 24
Detroit 7 FINAL
Carolina 24
St. Louis 19 FINAL
Tampa Bay 17
Seattle 21 FINAL
San Diego 30
NY Jets 24 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Kansas City 17 FINAL
Denver 24
Houston 30 FINAL
Oakland 14
Chicago 7 2nd Qtr 0:13
San Francisco 17
Philadelphia 9/15/14 7:30 PM
Indianapolis
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
Boise State 38 FINAL
Connecticut 21
Indiana 42 FINAL
Bowling Green 45
Ga Southern 38 FINAL
Georgia Tech 42
Syracuse 40 FINAL
Central Mich 3
UCF 10 FINAL
(18) Missouri 38
Massachusetts 31 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
Ohio U 14 FINAL
Marshall 44
West Virginia 40 FINAL
Maryland 37
Kent State 0 FINAL
(23) Ohio State 66
Pittsburgh 42 FINAL
FIU 25
East Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia Tech 21
Louisville 21 FINAL
Virginia 23
Wyoming 14 FINAL
(2) Oregon 48
Air Force 48 FINAL
Georgia State 38
(13) Georgia 35 FINAL
(14) So Carolina 38
Arkansas 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 28
Iowa State 20 FINAL
Iowa 17
Miami-Ohio 10 FINAL
Michigan 34
Kansas 3 FINAL
Duke 41
NC State 49 FINAL
So Florida 17
Arkansas State 20 FINAL
Miami-Florida 41
Miss State 35 FINAL
South Alabama 3
Louisiana 15 FINAL
(10) Ole Miss 56
Minnesota 7 FINAL
TCU 30
Illinois 19 FINAL
Washington 44
Army 0 FINAL
(16) Stanford 35
Western Mich 45 FINAL
Idaho 33
Eastern Mich 3 FINAL
Old Dominion 17
Southern Miss 12 FINAL
(3) Alabama 52
Northern Ill 48 FINAL
UNLV 34
Tulsa 21 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 50
ULM 0 FINAL
(8) LSU 31
Wake Forest 24 FINAL
Utah State 36
Western Ky 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 50
TX-San Antonio 13 FINAL
(25) Oklahoma State 43
Purdue 14 FINAL
(9) Notre Dame 30
Kentucky 30 FINAL
Florida 36
New Mexico St 24 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 42
Tennessee 10 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 34
(17) USC 31 FINAL
Boston College 37
Navy 35 FINAL
Texas State 21
(12) UCLA 20 FINAL
Texas 17
Penn State 13 FINAL
Rutgers 10
Rice 10 FINAL
(6) Texas A&M 38
(15) Arizona State 38 FINAL
Colorado 24
(24) Nebraska 55 FINAL
Fresno State 19
Nevada 28 FINAL
Arizona 35
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Montreal 16 FINAL
Edmonton 33
Toronto 33 FINAL
Calgary 40
Winnipeg 9 FINAL
Brt Columbia 26
Saskatchewan 3 FINAL
Hamilton 28
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings defense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close