Three games into the 2017 college football season and there is good news and bad in regards to the kicking game for the Augustana Vikings.
The good news is that senior Jacob Stytz has yet to miss a kick.
The bad news is that he has more field goals (six) than extra-point kicks (five). Four of those six field goals, including a personal-best of 52 yards, came in Saturday's 28-25 setback at Carroll and earned him CCIW special teams player of the week honors.
It sort of tells you about the 0-3 Vikings' offense, though, at this stage.
“I think it's huge,” said Augustana coach Steve Bell of having a weapon like that to salvage points out of stalled drives. “Obviously, we want touchdowns as opposed to field goals. But when you can get points off a drive, that's huge.”
Last year, Stytz showed what he could do, making 9 of 12 field goal tries and all 22 of his extra-point kicks. He had a long of 46 yards and was selected as an All-CCIW first-team kicker.
Doing his job is all Stytz can control. When called upon, he delivers.
“When I'm out there, I'm in a zone,'' said Stytz, who reported making a career-long 61-yard field goal in practice. “Somebody can be yelling in my helmet and if I'm in the right place, I don't even hear them. It's weird.”
That has helped him etch his name in the school record books. Those four field goals last week tied a school single-game mark with Barry Reade — against Wheaton in 1987 — for field goals in a game. With 12 points, he was just two shy of the season mark for kicking points in a game, also held by Reade from that 28-6 1987 victory over Wheaton.
Last season, his nine field goals were one shy of Michael Clark's season field goal total of 10, set in 2001. With 21, he has a ways to go to catch Clark's career mark of 31 set between 2001-2004. Stytz is also one of the school's most accurate extra-point kickers, making 62 of 63 coming into this season. For a career, Rock Island's Todd Miller (1979-82) was the most accurate, making 95 of 96 extra-point attempts.
So far this season, Stytz, 21, has been at his best, crediting that success to maturity and confidence. He hopes it leads to his goal of being an all-American kicker.
“I worked pretty hard in the off-season,” he said of he and holder Riley McDonald, a senior classmate. “I was here quite a bit over the summer and kicking on the field, lifting and doing drills with my holder Riley. Just putting in the work.”
The kicking game has been solid even with injuries altering the snapping. Starter Ike McGuire, a sophomore, suffered a leg injury and was replaced by senior Grant McFadden, who jumped the depth chart to earn the job.
Now that work is paying off for Stytz, the former Minooka High School prep who has plenty of local support on Saturdays with his mom's side of the family residing in Hampton and including grandparents Jim & Janet Oltman.
Maybe one of the pre-med major's biggest backers, though, is Augustana kicking coach Dick Skillett, who has seen the kicker's confidence skyrocket this season.
"His work ethic is great,” said Skillett, noting Stytz's off-season work improved his accuracy as much as anything. “He's very smart. He's very talented. He can do a lot of aspects of the kicking game – onside kicks, bunt kicks. He's that talented.”