When Penn State senior kicker Jordan Stout left four points off the board in the second half against then-No. 12 Wisconsin, with a missed 23-yard field goal and an extra point attempt off the upright, the Nittany Lions allowed the Badgers to stick around in a one-score contest.
While Stout’s huge leg flipped the field with some booming punts (a 53.3-yard average on seven punts), his field goal kicking leaves plenty of questions. Well, it could after Saturday, with head coach James Franklin sticking by Stout for PSU’s Week 2 contest against Ball State.
“We won’t make that determination off of one game,” Franklin said. “We’ve got to get those things cleaned up, there’s no doubt about it, but I’m also very, very proud of him. Because some guys wouldn’t be able to handle [misses] well. That would seep into the kickoffs, that would seep into the punting.”
Stout, originally a transfer from Virginia Tech, has handled kickoffs and long-distance field goals for Penn State over the last two seasons and won away full-time kicking duties from incumbent Jake Pinegar last offseason.
“It really came down to camp,” Franklin said. “I say this to you guys all the time, and I don’t know if you always necessarily believe me, but each position, whether it’s the starting quarterback or the starting kicker, you compete for it every year, you compete for every camp, you compete for it every week.”
Pinegar has been good for PSU since taking over in 2018, connecting on 36 of 49 field goal attempts (72.3%) and 136 of 141 extra point attempts (96.5%). Franklin spoke to a lot of factors — consistency, accuracy, the snap and hold, the location, percentage rates, etc. — that went into Stout supplanting Pinegar.
Franklin still, however, believes Pinegar will have a role to play with the team this season and feels like Pinegar is approaching the remainder of the season with the same mindset. In the meantime, Stout will handle kickoffs, all field goals and punting duties until Franklin and co. see fit. With a stellar punting debut, earning B1G Special Teams Player of the Week honors, he just needs to clean up his accuracy in field goal kicking.