When Todd Sievers lined up for a 53-yard field goal against Florida last Saturday the last thing on his mind was that he basically clinched the game for the Hurricanes. Well he almost did. Since the 1983 season, the Miami Hurricanes have won 92 percent of the time when they score first.
He was aware of the statistic – and he takes pride in it – but all he wanted to do was drill it through the uprights. Sievers did, and the ‘Canes motored to its second win of the season against the Florida Gators in Gainesville 41-16. The senior gave the ‘Canes the early lead and tallied 11 points overall.
“Miami is not the only place I have been a part of that secures wins when scoring first,” Sievers said. “My high school carried this superior record as well.”
Punter Freddy Capshaw was injured in Miami’s opening game against Florida A&M, so Sievers acquired another job for his resume by replacing him for that game – and that game only.
“I do not practice punting, that’s not what I do. But I’ll do what I have to do to help my team,” said Sievers.
Last season, Sievers was 0-1 from field goal attempts beyond 50 yards, and this season he is already 1-2. When asked if he did anything over the summer to work on his strength, he replied with confidence.
“No, I always knew I had the strength to kick that far. That never was a concern of mine. However I did concentrate hard on improving my accuracy.”
Twenty-four out of the 50 previous meetings between Florida and Miami have been decided by a touchdown or less, yet Sievers kept his confidence high and the only pressure he felt was what he put on himself.
“I was not frustrated by my team, just a little bit concerned,” Seivers said. “Florida came out with a bang, and they tested us right away. I realized that the combination of points I scored from two attempts could be outscored easily from one touchdown by the opposing team. Our offense seemed to be a little flat footed in the beginning.”
Sievers is secure enough with his kicking to find the confidence within him, not through other players’ faults. One reason for this might be that halfway through the 2000 season he was diagnosed with diabetes after undergoing tests because he was feeling ill following practices.
“I actually feel a lot better,” he said. “I wake up and give myself a shot, as I do before every meal. I eat three healthy meals a day and I am just very conscious of my well being, which in fact, I feel has helped me become a better player in the long run.”
Sievers has become a prominent spokesperson for diabetes and the reality has helped his perspective with his game – and his teammates.
“When another player misses a field goal, it doesn’t make me feel more secure, it just makes me feel better about what I do. I think to myself that maybe people will appreciate us kickers more. Especially up in Gainesville where the kickers are walk-ons. They have to prove themselves to get a scholarship, whereas we were recruited.”
For the third time in his career, Sievers won Big East Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against Florida. Included in that decision was the 53-yarder he made, five out of his eight kickoffs went for touchbacks and the remaining three were returned no further than the 30-yard line.
Sievers’ 53-yard field goal tied for the second-longest kick in Big East history – fourth best in Miami history.
The Hurricanes will surely rely on the senior’s strong leg for the rest of season, which he hopes will end with a second consecutive National Championship.
Dana Strokovsky can be reached at Hoopg1rl6@aol.com.