Had a chance to visit with Ole Miss punter Tyler Campbell earlier today. ...
(How is your summer going?)
Things are going really well. We're running every morning. I'm in the 7:30 group, working out at 1:30 or 2:30 after class. Then the specialists kick together and work on execution. I have a pretty strong upper body. I take pride in the weight room and how much I can lift.
This new staff has actually brought Olympic lifting to specialists, and we haven't had that before. I really feel like that's helping my explosive movements, my leg strength and leg speed, and that should help my punting.
(So what's different with Olympic lifting?)
It's more like quick muscle twitch and explosive movements. With coach (Don) Decker, the old staff, we'd do more like dead lift, squat and bench. Those were our three main lifts. With this staff we power clean, which is new, we snatch, we jerk, snatch pulls. It helps our hips become quicker, and I feel like that's really going to help me as far as like my groin and my leg speed.
(Were you lacking in that?)
I don't feel like I was lacking, but sometimes as the season progressed, my leg just didn't feel like it was 100 percent. I can tell that it's helped so far, and I hope it will last through the season. I think it will with this routine.
(How is the chemistry going with the coaching staff change?)
I feel like it's going really well. I know for us it is, the specialists. Coach (Tom) Allen came in. He was real cool about everything. He realized that me, Bryson and Andrew are all seniors, and we've all started for at least three years. He realized that and said, 'Y'all just need to keep doing what you're doing. You've had success in the past. So we really respect him, and he respects us. We have a really good relationship.
(For specialists, how much coaching is involved and how much is kick on your own?)
For us, practicing with the team is more game planning, formation, what kind of kicks, kick right or kick left, whatever kind of kicks we need to work on, what kind of return guy we're dealing with.
After that, we all go on the game field, and we work together as a unit. We have a GA come, and we kick. We're all fairly knowledgeable in kicking. We kind of help each other out and can coach each other a little bit then. Then we chart, Bryson charts field goals, Andrew charts kickoffs, and I chart punts. Then the coaches get that and analyze that.
(More rugby punting last year. What was that like?)
It was totally different for me. Last year was my first year to ever rugby kick, and we started out with Georgia. It was really successful that game, and I think we kind of fell in love with it too quick, because then Alabama put the guy up short to prepare for it. They could prepare for it, because then they were expecting it from then on. I feel like it kind of altered my mechanics a little bit, the leg swing and running out to the side as far as going straight and kicking in conventional punting. I've been working on conventional more now, and that's where I feel more comfortable.
It's just two different muscle memories. When you're running out to the side, the ball's kicking across your body. Conventional, you just want to drive straight through it. It's two different leg swings. It improved net punting. It got the job done as far as statistics, and it made me more versatile. Teams sometimes wouldn't know if I was going to hit one deep or just roll it down there.
(You've got a 73-yard career-long punt. What goes into a kick like that?)
Kicking starts with the snap, and Will's (Denny) an excellent snapper. He hasn't had a bad snap. It's my drop, though. It has to be at the right drop table at the right angle for me to hit the boom spot, as they call it, and for one to go 70-plus. It's just repitition, consistency and repitition. Like when I go back there. Like when I go out there, I do drops straight back and forth across the field, just straight drop after drop after drop. Just being sure. You want the nose solid down, and if the nose is solid down, it will hit and bounce back toward me. That's how you want it.
(What do you guys hear about expectations for this program?)
For us we want to prove everyone wrong. Everyone's like, 'They've had two down years,' and they're assuming another bad year, but we feel like we're going to turn it around. My senior class especially, we've been on top. We've been to the Cotton Bowl, and we know how that is. We also know how going home for six weeks over Christmas is. We'd much rather go to a bowl. We're trying to motivate the younger kids and get them focused on turning this program around. I just feel like … the past two years there has been off and on chemistry. It wasn't all there, there were different cliques within the team. Now I feel like we have better chemistry, and we're more together. I feel like coach Freeze has really brought in the whole family and the whole togetherness aspect of it, and us seniors have taken it and run with it. We're trying to show the younger guys that if you do it the right way it turns into wins.
(What has this staff done to improve that chemistry?)
They've just preached about it, and it's just a whole different atmosphere as far as team meetings, practice, the music playing, it's just more … a whole different atmosphere. I think it's been a change for the better. This team has really responded to it, the seniors especially.
Yes, definitely. We treat everything as a team. If someone messes up in a workout during a conditioning drill the whole team suffers, whether it's an extra rep or up downs, we all do it, and coach (Paul) Jackson does a really good job with that, holding everyone accountable on the same level.
(Was it hard to get to know the staff?)
It was actually pretty easy. Like coach Freeze, his first team meeting, he came in and just started it like a regular team meeting, three claps and then 'Are you ready?' It got all of our attention. They're all real personable guys, real good guys and easy to talk to.