Cole Murphy only 7 field goals away from breaking Syracuse’s all-time record

first_img Published on October 18, 2017 at 1:29 pm Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @MatthewGut21 There was a little kid in the second deck of the Carrier Dome last Friday, wearing an orange shirt and waving his arms. With 9:41 on the clock and the game even at 24, Syracuse kicker Cole Murphy spotted the young fan and used him as a target. Murphy’s aim was precise. The ball sailed through the uprights, a 30-yard field goal to cap off SU’s 16-play, 68-yard drive that sealed the win over the defending national champions.“I remember picking him out,” said Murphy, who also kicked a 21-yarder to put Syracuse up three at halftime. “It was awesome.”With a 2-for-2 effort against Clemson, Murphy jumped to first in the conference in field goals made and sits only seven away from becoming Syracuse’s all-time leader. This year, he is 12-for-14 overall, a perfect 9-for-9 between the 20- and 39-yard lines. The senior already has more field-goal makes than he did all of last season for Syracuse (4-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast).Of Murphy’s 40 kickoffs, 21 have resulted in a touchback. He aims for the deep left corner to make returners as uncomfortable and hesitant as possible, but that has come at a cost. While striving to hit the ball between the sideline and the hash at around the depth of the goal line, he has kicked five out of bounds, including one against Clemson last week. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I was trying too hard to swing on it and just kill it,” Murphy said. “It’s the same thing in golf. If you’re driving and trying to kill it, you’re really going to screw it up and it’s going to shoot low and hook.“Now I’ve slowed down and it’s helped me maintain control, where I can get that nice, sweet, 85-percent swing where I strike it and it goes deep.”Strong kickoffs from Murphy are as important now as any other time in his career. Syracuse’s defense is much improved, and Murphy pins teams farther into their own territory enables the defense to get stops. This season Murphy has not gotten into his own head, which he said contributed to his slide in 2016. He struggled on the road, going 1-for-6 away from home, compared to a 9-of-12 mark in the Dome. At LSU last month, he boomed a season-long 42-yarder. He missed a 48-yarder at North Carolina State. But against Pittsburgh he hit a 26-yarder before striking a 38-yarder in a three-point SU win and he tallied the final score last week against Clemson, sending the Carrier Dome into delirium with less than 10 minutes remaining. “Maybe last year was a junior slump,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said. “We wouldn’t have won the game without him.”Last October, Murphy shanked a field goal against Clemson from the same distance (30 yards) as last Friday. It was a 54-0 loss, the only time a Babers-led team has ever failed to score a point. He didn’t miss from the same spot last week, though, because Murphy’s renewed focus this year is to not dwell on past kicks. “When you miss a kick, it alters you mentally,” Murphy said. “That was the problem I had last year, whereas this year I’m staying mellow.”“I’ve got a good streak,” he said. “I just have to keep it going.”Syracuse plays next at No. 8 Miami (5-0, 3-0) on Saturday at 3:30. The game will air on ESPN.Notes from Babers’ weekly teleconference:On facing No. 8 Miami Saturday afternoon: “There’s so much speed on tape. You just can’t deny how fast that team is. Yet they’re so physical.”On preparing for the South Florida weather: “We can’t duplicate those weather conditions this far north.” On a scale of 1-10, how the Clemson upset win helps recruiting: “At least a solid nine.” Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img