The ACC Kickoff (aka media days) is fast approaching, something we media members consider the unofficial start of the football season. That’s not until July 21, however. In the meantime, it’s as good a time as any to start taking a closer look at Virginia Tech.
This isn’t a list of the 25 best players on the Hokies’ roster. It’s a list of 25 things/people/ideas that will determine whether Virginia Tech’s 2013 season is a success or not. Next up is …
No. 19: Cody Journell, kicker
It’s hard to tell how Virginia Tech would have finished last year if not for Journell. The junior made clutch kicks against Georgia Tech, Boston College, Virginia and Rutgers, all close games that could have gone the other way.
Just think: if that 41-yarder at BC in the final minute doesn’t graze the upright on its way in to send the game to overtime, the Hokies wouldn’t have gone to a bowl. Say what you will about how the Russell Athletic Bowl played out, but missing a bowl game altogether would have been much more embarrassing.
If the Hokies hope to win some close games this year too, Journell is a good one to have on your side.
The senior made 80 percent of his kicks last season, going 20-for-25. Three of those misses were from 40-plus, so he’s pretty reliable from 40 and in, something that should give the coaching staff great comfort.
You can nitpick about his distance. Journell has shown a strong leg in scrimmages (and he booted a couple 50-yarders this spring), but his career long in college is still only 42 yards. I’m sure he’d like to expand that range.
But that’s one of the bonuses you want from a kicker. Getting someone who’s reliable from a certain range is the goal, and Journell provides that.
There are plenty of questions about this year’s offense heading into the season, and if Virginia Tech hasn’t corrected its red zone woes, Journell will still be heavily involved in putting points on the board.
Considering the Hokies’ record last year, they probably won’t be blowing out the competition this year either. That means close games, which necessitates having a kicker who can come through in the clutch. Journell has proven he can be that guy.
Coming Wednesday: 2012 was a lost year for this player.