“I need to work on my consistency from last year. I don’t think distance is going to be a problem,” he said.
He was 16-of-25 last year, and hit 6-of-10 field goals in those game-winning contests. But it’s what Christensen did in spring training this year that makes him a player to watch for an all-SEC (or better) type year.
Tide Head Coach Mike Shula consistently referred to Christensen as the most improved player or “probably the MVP on offense.” He said it with a smile because kickers don’t normally get much attention in the spring, but he said it enough that anyone with a discerning ear took notice.
In three spring scrimmages (including A-Day), Christensen was 8-of-9 on field goal tries. His only miss was on a 48-yard attempt into the wind in the second scrimmage. His long was a 50 yarder in the A-Day game, and five of the field goals made were from 40 yards or more.
He’s been in town all summer taking classes, too, but he’s looking forward to the return of all of his teammates for the second summer session in the run-up to the beginning of two-a-days.
“It will be nice to get to work with a holder because I haven’t had that since the spring,” he said.
His holder (punter P.J. Fitzgerald) this year will be new, as will the snapper (Luke Spalding). And anyone who was around for the 2003 season, when converted placement kicks could have changed the course of three Crimson Tide three games (a field goal against Arkansas and Tennessee, and an extra point against Northern Illinois), knows the importance of the snap-hold-kick.
“I just hope (Fitzgerald) can handle both jobs if he’s the starting punter and the holder,” Christensen said. “I know he will be able to.”
Last year it seemed like all Jamie Christensen did was kick game-winning field goals. There was the one against Ole Miss, from 31 yards, the 34 yarder against Tennessee and to cap off a season a 45-yard shot to beat Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl.
That final kick was ugly until the very moment it helicoptered about a foot over the crossbar and a few inches inside the left upright, when it turned into a thing of beauty and earned Christensen another trophy kick.
“The biggest question I got is did you think the Cotton Bowl kick was going in,” he said.
Then he stopped. No answer. So did you?
“I didn’t really think it had the distance,” Christensen said.
The grass at the Cotton Bowl stadium was more green-painted dead ground than anything resembling normal grass. The difference was noticeable even to a reporter walking down to the sideline late in the game, not to mention a placekicker with a game on the line.
“It threw everything off,” Christensen said. “But three points is three points, so I’ll take it.”
Everyone asks about the mindset of a kicker, too. It’s noted that his game-winners all came when Bama was tied with the opponent, so it wasn’t like the team would automatically lose the game if the kick failed. Would such a situation affect Christensen differently?
“I don’t get into that,” he said, “because you’re thinking about WAY too many things at once right now. I just think about the most simple stuff. If the other team tries to ice me with a timeout I just use it get myself prepared.
“I’m more nervous doing interviews. I’ve done the kicks 50,000 times, but I’ve only done three or four interviews.”