Emergence of freshman kicker may lighten the load for LeCompte
FARGO - It's just two games into the season, but the punting average of North Dakota State senior Ben LeCompte is somewhat eye-popping. He leads Division I FCS football with a 49.2-yard average.
FARGO – It’s just two games into the season, but the punting average of North Dakota State senior Ben LeCompte is somewhat eye-popping. He leads Division I FCS football with a 49.2-yard average.
That’s not necessarily all good, either, he said. Of his nine punts, four went into the end zone for touchbacks.
“Not acceptable,” LeCompte said. “One of the things I wanted to eliminate coming into the season was touchbacks.”
Two of his boots that reached the end zone were a 67-yarder at the University of Montana and a 74-yard moon shot last week against Weber State (Utah) at the Fargodome. There’s no cause for alarm there since both still netted over 50 yards.
“But in the others I was around the 40 or 50 (yard line) and not pinning them inside at least the 20, that’s inexcusable,” LeCompte said.
LeCompte’s also been dealing with the kickoff and placekicking duties, although help may have already arrived in Cam Pedersen. The true freshman was 2 of 2 on field goals and 5 of 5 on extra points in the 41-14 win against Weber.
LeCompte missed a field goal at Montana and was wide right in his only attempt against Weber.
“That kick on Saturday I thought was a good kick, I thought I got a hold of the ball nicely,” he said. “It just sailed a little wide right.”
LeCompte is the Missouri Valley Football Conference leader in career punting average at 44.33. He’s second in school history behind Mike Dragosavich’s 44.46 and is currently sitting sixth in FCS history.
As a fifth-year player, he is also in the role of mentor to Pedersen, who last week lauded LeCompte for a list of tips and advice. Head coach Chris Klieman said after the Weber game he was impressed with Pedersen’s demeanor and that he would get every shot this week to be the kicker Saturday against the University of North Dakota.
“Yeah, he was as cool as the other side of the pillow as Stuart Scott would say,” said LeCompte, quoting the former ESPN anchor. “It was great. There were a little bit of nerves after the first PAT that I could tell. He started walking off the field and didn’t take the congratulations from anybody. I think he was kind of star-struck, but he was cool, calm and collected. The kid should be proud of himself because I certainly am.”
Although LeCompte said he’s ready to kick a field goal or extra point at any point – he said his confidence has not wavered despite the 0 for 2 start – he said having Pedersen as part of the rotation takes some of the pressure off his game day plate.
“It helps me focus on other things,” LeCompte said, “but if the point and time does come where I’m called to kick another field goal, I’ll do it as confidently as I can.”