Over the next two weeks, Tyler Weiderhoeft and myself will break down the 15 most important players for Oklahoma State football’s 2017 season. We will release one a day leading up to No. 1 on April 15th, the day of the Spring Game.
We “kick if off” today with number 15: Kicker Matt Ammendola
#15 Matt Ammendola
If you don’t know by know, one of the most important things to Cowboy head coach Mike Gundy is special teams. That’s why OSU’s junior kicker lands at 15.
Last season, Ammendola handled 88 of OSU’s 96 kick-offs. He had 41 touchbacks and averaged 63.1 yards a kick. He also made his only field goal attempt, a 53 yarder against Central Michigan, and his only extra point attempt, against Southeastern Louisiana. Obviously, he’s got a leg on him.
He was a big part of Oklahoma State finishing with the second best kickoff coverage in the Big 12 last season. Ammendola’s 41 touchbacks meant that means teams got the best chance to return a kick-off 47 times. However, OSU held teams to only 969 total return yards in 13 games. That’s an average of 20.6 yards a kick-off.
That means teams playing OSU would be better off getting 25 yards on a touchback than trying to return it.
Gundy realizes the benefit of a kicker who can put air under the ball and get hang time. If the special teams defense can get to the return man before he has a chance to catch the ball and plan a route to run, then opposing teams are basically losing five yards to start every drive.
Winning field position is huge in college football, and Ammendola helps the Cowboys do just that. That’s why he ranks number 15. His powerful leg and ability to put air under the ball are valuable weapons for Oklahoma State and should continue to be so this season.