BOULDER – The praise from Colorado Buffaloes head coach Mike MacIntyre on Alex Kinney has been pretty obvious from the start of camp. It can be difficult to get a read on how coach MacIntyre feels at times but when asked about Kinney today he genuinely was impressed with the junior punter so far.
“Wow, yeah, yeah,” MacIntyre began in a way that only he could. “Well, his drop is more consistent. He’s worked really hard on his drop. I know that sounds minute but it’s just like a golf swing. If it’s off by even a centimeter it’s going crazy. So his drop and the way he’s doing it and the way his leg is coming through. As you saw the other day in the scrimmage, I know there wasn’t anybody out there, but he had eight punts that averaged about 52 yards and all of them were good.”
Punter is a difficult job in part because of the scrutiny. Fans like to think you can grab one off the street, but it’s really not that easy. There’s a lot that needs to go right before things are even in the punter’s control; the snap needs to be right and the blocking needs to be perfect. To assign sole blame for last season’s woes on Kinney would be doing him a disservice, but that doesn’t mean last year didn’t add extra motivation for Kinney to get better.
“It wasn’t the best year but it gives you good experience,” Kinney said. “I could almost say that I’ve been through everything, the ups, and downs, getting things blocked and all that. I guess it just gets me more comfortable out there knowing that I’ve been through it and I know how to bounce back.”
During the offseason, Kinney worked on his own to practice bad snaps. He’d practice catching a bad snap and then getting it back straight so he could repeat the same drop every time.
“100 percent,” Kinney said, on if he’s seen improvement on the field during fall camp. “I think I’m being more consistent, they’re not as big of balls. I’m kind of slowing it down, only hitting it 90 percent. But the balls are turning over better and going further. It’s just more consistent all around.”
Another thing that has changed for Kinney is there’s a new voice helping coach the special teams, inside linebackers coach Ross Els. Els has prior experience as the special teams coach at Nebraska and New Mexico State and, although it’s not his official title and all of the coaches are expected to take up a role within special teams, Els has taken up the biggest role.
“I think we changed up a lot of things,” Kinney said of the effect of Els so far. “ I feel a lot more comfortable with the people that are out there with the punt team. I always felt comfortable but this is another level of comfort.”
Kinney is also rocking a new hairstyle since the start of fall camp, a luscious mullet. Kinney said that he did it on July 4th for celebratory reasons and the conditioning coach, Drew Wilson, told him that he has to keep it. Kinney plans to keep it until he has a bad game and then he’ll go for the full buzz cut. Buffs fans will be hoping to see the mullet all season long.