It’s easy to blame the kicker at every wrong turn. Your expectation is for him to make every kick. They really can only let you down.
In Syracuse’s case, we present Cole Murphy. He is often the butt of many jokes. The scapegoat for Syracuse’s struggles. The forgotten man on SU’s special teams.
But quietly, kicker Murphy has turned himself into one of the best players on the Orange this season.
Case in point: last week, national college football writers jokingly jumpstarted his Heisman campaign.
— Andrea Adelson (@aadelsonESPN) October 21, 2017
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the senior. After a 2016 season where Murphy connected on just 55 percent of his attempts, some people were calling for a new kicker. However, why was Murphy to blame for the Orange’s struggles? It was convenient. But the fact of the matter is, Murphy didn’t lose a single game for Syracuse last season. The Orange never had a single digit loss.
This season has been a completely different story. The only losses SU has suffered are single digit differentials. Murphy is keeping the Orange in games (and in some cases, winning them) with his leg. The last time he missed a field goal came four weeks ago against NC State. It was a 48-yard attempt and Murphy was yanked from the game in favor of Sterling Hofrichter. Getting pulled for missing a 48-yarder is the basketball equivalent of getting benched after missing a contested three pointer with the shot clock winding down. It makes little sense to be expected to do something of that magnitude. A 48-yard field goal is certainly no gimme in the college game. In that game, Dino Babers may have realized how lucky he was to have a guy like Murphy. Sure, Hofrichter made his lone field goal attempt, but it far more resembled a baseball coming out of Tim Wakefield’s hand than an actual kick.
The one knock on Murphy’s game this season has been the out of bounds kicks. But he has just one in the last three weeks and frankly, the way the Orange’s defense is playing, it hasn’t hurt SU as badly.
Ever since getting replaced against NC State, people have acknowledged Murphy’s performances, especially against Miami. His 4-for-4 including a career long 53-yarder late in the game. But in reality, he has been superb all season long. Murphy has already tied his career-high with 16 made field goals, and the season is just two-thirds completed. His only missed field goals are the aforementioned 48-yarder, as well as a 40-yarder against Middle Tennessee State.
He is the easy scapegoat on a team that has suffered heart-breaking losses this season. But in the end, Cole Murphy has yet to lose a game for Syracuse this season, and quite frankly, what more can you ask out of your kicker?