Mike Lynch does not exactly evoke any memories of former Harvard kicking greats Charlie Brickley (1912-14), Richie Szaro (1968-70) or Bruce Tetirick (1971-73). Nor does he spawn any comparisons with Brown's present kicker Jose Violante, who is threatening to break Brickley's New England career field goal record of 25.
Lynch is not exactly closing in on Brickley, unless you call one field goal and counting as "closing in." And Tetirick's position as the top Harvard scorer by kicking 116 points (16 field goals and 68 PATs) is hardly threatened by the present Harvard kicker.
But then Lynch has only been the varsity toe for three games, so the comparisons are hardly fair. The junior from Swampscott via Exeter has amassed all of eight points so far, with a field goal and five PATs. Hardly the stats to make the opposition quake.
Harvard's kicking game has received a lot of attention this season, the type of attention Lynch doesn't want, or need. The news is not good. The team managed to rack up zero extra points following its first four touchdowns in the Holy Cross and B.U. contests.
The disapproving eye of the Harvard fans fell, naturally enough, upon Lynch and teammate Jim Curry, who sliced a field goal attempt in the opener to the left of the goal posts. After all, last year Alky Tsitsos was 20 for 20 in PATs.
So Lynch became the PAT patsy. But it really wasn't all his fault.
"I really only missed one extra point," Lynch explained yesterday, recalling his three-cushion shot in the Holy Cross game that bounced off both goal posts before falling back short of the three points.
The other muffs that caused the crowd to groan in embarrassment were not Lynch's fault. There is more to the kicking game than meets the toe.
"The kicking game is a team thing too," Lynch said, "You have to have a good snap and get the ball down for a good kick. We've had some problems with our exchange in the first couple of games."
"It's like a running play," he continued. "If someone misses a block then the runner looks bad." And due to two bad snaps, Lynch looked bad.
In the loss to B.U., the only kick that Lynch could get away was good, a 32-yard field goal. "If we had won the game 9-7," he said, "people would've stopped talking about a kicking problem. I don't think we have a problem right now."
And he would appear to be right, so far. Against Columbia last weekend Lynch punched five out of five extra points through the crossbars, the difference between the two teams' scores.
This is how Lynch expects it should be the rest of the year. He has no reason to believe otherwise, he is not new to this game. His junior year at Swampscott High, Lynch converted on 38 out of 39 extra point attempts. "It was just automatic," he explains.
And at Exeter, where he was both quarterback and place kicker, Lynch booted a 48-yard field goal. He does not lack the skill to be a successful kicker.
The trio of Joe Antonellis snapping. Tim Davenport holding and Lynch kicking has been practicing to the point where "I think we can do it in our sleep."
So this should be the last Lynch hears of Harvard's place-kicking problems. At least he hopes so. Already in his first varsity season he has been in the midst of two controversies. The first was the great Harvard-quarterback controversy.
Lynch was one of the six candidates that coach Joe Restic was looking over for the position. The questioning press kept asking over and over "Who will quarterback Harvard?"
"They were all worried about it," said Lynch, who was beaten out for the job by Jim Kubacki, "and now look at what a great job Kubacki has done for us."
Like the QB controversy, the kicking controversy will die down as well. After a perfect performance last Saturday, it appears as though it is vanishing already. And Mike Lynch is glad of that.
Lynch may not be breaking records now but until then, no news is good news.
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