Missouri football kicker Andrew Baggett wins practice for offense

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 | 8:52 p.m. CDT
Missouri Tigers wide receiver T.J. Moe runs with the ball during football practice on the fields Tuesday outside the Missouri Athletic Training Complex.

COLUMBIA — Make kick, offense wins. Miss kick, defense wins.

Coaches chose to let a 40-yard field goal decide the winner of practice after the offense won the last 11-on-11 session of the day, tying the defense. A made field goal Tuesday would give the offense their first victory of Missouri football training camp.

But Andrew Baggett, currently the Tigers' No. 1 field goal kicker, has always been grouped with the defense at practice since joining the team as a walk-on. So if he makes the kick, he makes his own side lose.

If he misses it, he and the defense would retain the black jerseys and get to watch the offense do up-downs after practice, as they have every day of camp so far. But with redshirt senior Trey Barrow behind him on the depth chart, Baggett needed to make the kick to maintain his job security.

Baggett lined up and kicked it straight through the uprights. The offense erupted with cheers.

"That's the first practice we've won since last fall," senior receiver T.J. Moe said.

Everyone wearing a white jersey appeared giddy. Receiver L'Damian Washington raised his arms up and danced.

Baggett's celebration was not as pleasant. He joined his much less lively teammates in the black jerseys for up-downs, an exercise involving jogging in place while repeatedly dropping to the ground and getting back up.

Was he even tempted to miss it intentionally to win the practice for his side?

"No," Baggett laughed. "I care more about making the kick. It's more important that I make it than the defense winning or losing."

His reward was gaining trust from coaches and teammates.

"You know, obviously that's great confidence for him," Coach Gary Pinkel said. "If he misses it, you've got to deal with that."

Barrow, the No. 2 field goal kicker, is grouped with the offense, but all of the kickers spend most of practice in the same group. They usually stand near a field goal post, isolated from the rest of the team.

"We're like the little black sheep," Baggett said. "We're all by ourselves."

Barrow said the isolation at practice allows kickers to work on whatever they need. They often practice by aiming punts at a shed near the fields, or kicking field goals over the fence behind the uprights.

Baggett said he has been focusing on field goals since the coaching staff had him stop working on punts during the spring. He says he kicks field goals the same way every time, regardless of the distance.

For Barrow, the focus is now primarily punting and kickoffs. But he still has the ability to kick field goals. He kicked field goals for the Tigers after former All-American Grant Ressell struggled last season.

"With kickoffs you can be a little more amped up, where with field goals need to be more locked in," Barrow said. "Punting it's just a different swing, you've got to focus on catching the ball and having a good drop."

Barrow and Baggett catch passes from the quarterbacks at the beginning of every practice as they warm up. Barrow, who played receiver in high school, says catching is a valuable skill for a punter. 

Baggett on the other hand, admits catching is not his best skill.

"I played goalie (in high school soccer) so I'm used to just blocking them," he said.

Catching is not a skill needed for being a placekicker. All he has to do is make a field goals when called upon. This time, he came through. And the offense will get to wear black jerseys Wednesday for the first time in this training camp. In the real games, Baggett's made field goals will actually help his team win. The kick at practice was just meant to prepare him for those.

"They've been trying to get a little more pressure on us," Barrow said. "One day they put conditioning on one of his kicks. Andrew's one (on the depth chart) so it's all on him."

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