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Hawkeye kicker Meyer surprising outsiders, not himself

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | SEPTEMBER 15, 2011 7:20 AM

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You might describe Mike Meyer as a little awkward.

The wiry sophomore placekicker stands at 6-2 and 180 pounds. On a sunny Tuesday afternoon outside the Hayden Fry Football Complex, a bashful smile greets those that approach him. A shaky — maybe even nervous — laugh fills in the uncomfortable pauses and empty spaces before and after sentences.

To be fair, Meyer was restricted from giving interviews last year because of his status as a true freshman.

But on the field thus far, he has been anything but awkward.

Iowa has called on the 19-year-old for six field goals in two games, and he's sent the ball through the uprights successfully on each try.

His 6-for-6 start — including a 50-yarder — has surprised some, perhaps those expecting the same Mike Meyer from 2010.

He performed erratically at times as a true freshman walk-on. He hit 14-of-17 field goals, but his two missed extra points were more troubling. One was blocked, while another was simply off the mark.

Still, Meyer sounds flabbergasted when asked if he's surprised by this year's results.

"Not really. I know what I can do," said Meyer, who holds the Mississippi Valley record with a 56-yard field goal for Dubuque's Wahlert High. "It's my job to do as well as I can. Right now, I'm doing what I expect myself to do."

That includes even the 50-yarder in hostile territory against Iowa State last week, which established a new college career-long for him. Meyer's previous best was a 42-yard kick against Indiana in October 2010.

The Dubuque native said the confidence shown by his coaches in sending him out for a 50-yarder helped improve his own self-assurance.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz exhibited that confidence when asked to assess Meyer's season.
"Mike has really continued to improve," Ferentz said. "We expected that and anticipated that."

Special-team coach Lester Erb said during Iowa's media day that placekicking duties was an open competition, something Ferentz iterated as recently as three weeks ago.

If Meyer continues to perform as he did in Ames — a perfect 4-of-4 on field goals, earning National Placekicker of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards — he might soon shut the door completely on any competition from Trent Mossbrucker or Marshall Koehn.

However, Meyer still believes his game needs to be a lot sharper, particularly on kickoffs. He wants to drive the ball more as opposed to lofting it high, which leaves it more vulnerable to the wind. Better placement is also a concern. Meyer booted a kickoff out of bounds against Iowa State, allowing the Cyclones to start a drive at their own 40 after the penalty.

"I think I've made a little step maybe, but I'm not even close to where I want to be," he said.
Meyer has progressed enough to earn himself a scholarship. As far as earning himself a spot in Hawkeye football lore, that opportunity has yet to present itself.

But if Ferentz and Company should need Meyer to kick them to a late-game victory — à la Daniel Murray's 31-yarder with one second left to stun No. 3 Penn State in 2008 — he'll be ready.

"Hopefully, we never come down to it," Meyer said. "But if it happens, yeah, I'd love it."


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