We are the lonesome kickers
The Gramaticas are gone.
All of them. From USF to the NFL, they’re nowhere in sight.
Sure, the Buccaneers have Martin in their Rolodex just in case Matt Bryant doesn’t pan out like they want to, but the Bulls brothers, Bill and Martin, seem to be history.
And some of you, undoubtedly, are breathing a sigh of relief. Mainly you Arizona fans, but some Bulls fans, too.
With every jump and fist pump into the air, many hold their breath, hoping those little guys come down all right.
But after what kicker Mike Benzer displayed during Saturday’s 37-3 win over FAMU – two botched field goals and a extra point attempt, plus another against Penn State last week – there might be an uprising reminiscent of Evita regarding getting a new Gramatica on the team.
Then again, maybe not.
Kyle Bronson, a red shirt freshman who took the metaphorical bright clothing because he was in the shadow of Santiago in 2004, stepped up, hit his first career field goal for 30 yards and knocked out three extra points.
Benzer, however, probably went on a bender.
Bronson’s got a job for now.
But are there many things you can ask for as a Bulls fan? A winning season, sure. Even a win is within reason.
Well, mission accomplished – in front of a 40,000-plus strong crowd in Raymond James.
But less than a year removed from the Gramatica era, would you really be begging to have Bill or even – wait for it – Santiago back to line up for field goals and extra points?
Would you really want a Gramatica back with all their history? Their pain and suffering, their injuries that come easier than an ‘A’ in a Critical Thinking class in your senior year?
Not after what Bronson did.
“I think we might have found our kicker,” coach Jim Leavitt said of Bronson, a Wharton High standout from Tampa. “I’m not down on Benzer. If you remember, Santiago and Bill struggled as freshmen and turned out to be outstanding kickers for us, but you’ve got to look at what Bronson did.”
You can’t get down on him.
Brandon Baker – USF’s punter who’s averaging 46 yards per punt – isn’t and knows what it’s like to have a massive amount of pressure on your shoulders.
“(Benzer) is still young. It’s a unit thing. It’s a combination of things and (Benzer) just can’t take all the blame. He’s got learning to do.
“That seems to be the business part of it. If you come in and get it done, then you’re the guy.”
So everyone is to blame, but something remains to be answered: If Bronson did so well in the first action of his collegiate career, why wasn’t he starting all along? Why was he just doing kickoffs?
It could be a case where Leavitt didn’t want to waste a scholarship kicker – Benzer – over a walk-on like Bronson.
Leavitt claimed he was worried about the kicking game long before the spring game in April. But now with youth dominating the kicker position, worries just aren’t sailing right, they aren’t even getting past the offensive line.
“I told (Benzer) just to shake it off,” said Bronson of the conversation with his peer about the missed field goals. “It’s week by week between me, (Justin) Teachey and Benzer. It’s just whoever shows up at practice. I just thank God for every chance I get.”
Chances come and go quicker than snaps for kickers, but perhaps Jim should hand over kicker coaching duties to some one with more experience in that department.
Because, you know, all three Gramatica brothers have some free time.