After a breakout freshman campaign, the ‘grocery store kicker’ is ready for an encore. An offseason full of weight training, yoga and tackling drills, has Clemson kicker Greg Huegel determined to go deep every kickoff this year.
Huegel discusses his progress, the off-season and preparing for Auburn.
Q: What are your thoughts going to Auburn?
Huegel: “I realize that I’m not in a situation I’ve been in before just because I’ve never played at Auburn. Just realizing what I’m going into, Coach (Dabo) Swinney says all the time that we went to the national championship last year and that’s the biggest stage you can play on in college football. So you’re not going to play on a bigger stage than that and if you tell yourself that you’ve been there and done that, it just really helps with your thought process going into that game.”
Q: Did you have butterflies going into the road environment last season? How much did that experience help you?
Huegel: “Oh yes sir. It’s a huge confidence booster. Going into Louisville it was my first away game and I had two field goals going into that game against App State. I was really nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, but like I was saying, you have to approach it as a situation and just take it how it comes.”
Q: Is it possible to describe the difference for you prior to this game as opposed to last year?
Huegel: “I honestly couldn’t put it into words. Really the only thing I could say about it is that I’m not necessarily having a lot of nerves going into it, but the expectations that people have for me is the main difference from last year.”
Q: How much more comfortable are you as compared to last year?
Huegel: “I’m pretty comfortable now. I was nervous going into several games last year but I’m pretty comfortable, especially after having a good spring and a good fall camp. That’s confidence going into the first game. I’m feeling pretty comfortable.”
Q: We’ve been hearing that you have put in significant amount of work in on your kickoffs and that you’ve been getting a lot more distance on those in practice. How much work have you put in on that? What can we expect to see on Saturdays?
Huegel: “A big difference, in terms of kickoffs, I wasn’t here for kickoffs last offseason. I didn’t go thru the weight program that they have here. It’s a tremendous program. My numbers went up a crazy amount, more than I could have expected which obviously went right into the kickoffs. I also did yoga over the summer, so that improved my flexibility. Coach Swinney is happy. I feel confident that I can put it in the end zone every time.”
Q: Obviously you don’t want to be that last line of defense on kickoffs, but you were put in that position on multiple occasions last year. How much have you worked on that in terms of taking proper angles?
Huegel: “The coaches have definitely added tackling drills for us, so it kind of makes practice more fun for us. Learning some of the small technique things will help us out.”