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The Legacy of Specialist U Continues

Steven Schott (left) and Scott Kovanda (right) are in the running for two national awards

Some football programs are known for the staggering offense. Take the current version of the Oregon Ducks. Ask even a casual fan of college football and usually after they mention the uniforms or the mascot, they’ll reference the Oregon offense. Watching the speed and precision of the Duck attack is like poetry in motion and like a good indie record or an under the radar movie, it will suck in even the most casual observer and leave a lasting impression.

On the flip side of the line of scrimmage, there’s the defense. Teams like LSU and Alabama in recent memory have been known to use their defense as the ladder they climb to the heights of athletic consciousness. It isn’t as sexy as stunning offense or eye-popping scoreboard explosions, but the purists will tell you that offense comes and goes but defense rarely completely falters.

For Ball State, we’ve had a little of column A and not much of column B over the last decade. The offense in 2008 was obviously one of the best in BSU history (recent or otherwise) but outside of that year, I wouldn’t say that offense and defense has ever been something that BSU can hang their hat on in terms of the national conversation. But that doesn’t mean that the Cardinals aren’t worth talking about.

For years, BSU to their fans and diehards have been known as Punter U. That’s really to be expected when a program lands top-notch punters on NFL rosters like Brad Maynard and Reggie Hodges. However, most fans forget about John Diettrich who was a placekicker for the Houston Oilers in 1987. Perhaps a more appropriate nickname for this Cardinal team is Specialist U.

Those specialists probably more than any other position group get exponentially more blame than credit and yet in many cases have the biggest impact on the course of a game and season. When Maynard was at BSU he won Defensive Player of the Year and MVP. As. A. Punter. Ask the defense that year if he made their lives easier by lengthening the field. Ask the offense in recent memory how good it was to have Ian McGarvey to count on when a drive stalled out inside the opponent’s 35. Though not as sexy as a stifling defense or off the charts offense, it’s just as critical if not more so. Special teams are appropriately named.

So it comes as no surprise that the legacy of Specialist U is continuing this year as Scott Kovanda has been named a semi-finalist for the Ray Guy Award for the top collegiate punter and Steven Schott has been named a semi-finalist for the Lou Groza Award for the nation’s top placekicker. To the BSU releases…

Scott Kovanda, a senior on the Ball State football team, has been selected as one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award.

The Ray Guy Award – named for football’s premier punter – honors the nation’s best collegiate punter. The Augusta Sports Council created the award in 2000. Along with awards such as the Heisman Trophy and the Doak Walker Award, the Ray Guy Award honors one of the most important members of any football team.

This marks the second straight season Kovanda has been named a semifinalist for the award. A Ball State team captain, he has helped the Cardinals rank fourth in the nation in punt return defense. Of his 35 punts this season, only four have been returned for a 1.5 average, and he has pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 22 times.

Kovanda has punted 35 times for 1,442 yards and a 41.2 average. He has 217 career punts for 8,931 career punt yards and a 41.2 career average. Kovanda ranks fourth in Ball State history in career punt yardage, fourth in career punts and third in career average.

The Ray Guy Award winner is selected by a national voting body of Football Bowl Subdivision coaches, sports information directors, national media and former Ray Guy Award winners. Punters are evaluated on their overall statistics and contribution to the team. Particular emphasis is place on the following statistics: net average, percentage of total punts inside the 20-yard line and percentage of punts not returned.

The presentation of the Ray Guy Award will be featured on The Home Depot College Football Awards live Thurs., December 6 at 7:30 pm ET on ESPN.

Ball State is 7-3 overall and 4-2 in Mid-American Conference play. The Cardinals host Ohio Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Scheumann Stadium before completing the regular season at Miami University Nov. 23. Ball State is bowl eligible for a second straight season under second-year head coach Pete Lembo.

For Schott’s award potential…

Steven Schott (Massillon, Ohio/Washington H.S.), a senior placekicker for the Ball State football team, has been selected as one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to the nation’s most outstanding collegiate football placekicker.

The Palm Beach County Sports Commission released the names of the 20 semifinalists. Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches, collegiate media relations directors, past Groza winners and regional and national football writers will select three finalists. The finalists will be announced Nov. 19, and honored at the 21st annual Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Awards Banquet Dec. 4, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The winner will be announced live on the Home Depot ESPN College Football Awards Show Thurs., Dec. 6.

Schott ranks second in the nation with 2.22 field goals made per game and is tied for 15th in the country in scoring with 10.33 points per contest. He has made 20 field goals in 2012, which ranks second on Ball State’s single-season chart. Schott needs six field goals to set the school’s single-season record and pass John Diettrich, who made 25 field goals in 1985.

Schott connected on a career long 52-yard field goal in the first quarter vs. Eastern Michigan in the season opener and made a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter of Ball State’s win at Indiana. Schott made a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cardinals a 41-39 victory at Indiana.

Ball State is 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Mid-American Conference. The Cardinals host Ohio Nov. 14, and complete the regular season at Miami University Nov. 23.

Good luck to both Scott and Steven as they attempt to carry the torch of Specialist U!


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