Item: There is not a better dynamic duo when it comes to the kicking game; kickoffs, field goals, PATs and punting, than the Orange’s reining Lou Groza Award winner Andre Szmyt and this week’s second leading punter in total yardage nationally in the FBS ranks Sterling Hofrichter. With the rich tradition in quality kickers/punters that have worn orange in the Post World War II era (1949-present), that is another tip of the hat to what the Dino Babers regime has brought to the program.
“Our punter is an NFL punter, write it down.” – Baber’s instruction to the four-deep crowd of media surrounding his table at the ACC Kickoff event this past July.
After five games heading into the first of two open weeks this season (a 14 week calendar to play 12 games), Hofrichter is certainly backing up his coach’s well-educated prediction. Monday he was named the ACC Specialist of the Week for the second time in three weeks following a masterful performance in the 41-3 blitz of FCS foe Holy Cross last weekend in the Dome.
Not only did the senior Floridian supply his usual trajectory and hang time with each of his five boots against the Crusaders, finishing with an all important net average of 42 yards per punt, with four of the five kicks downed inside the 20-yard line, three for HC fair catches, but he also showed off his strong leg other than with his kickoffs.
Hofrichter blasted a 52 yard field goal well into the net behind the west end zone goalposts in the first quarter to up the SU lead to 17-0, his first field goal since 2017, and his three phases of All American kicking was showcased in front of his Groza award-winning teammate Szmyt who was cheering him on from the sideline.
On the preseason Watch List and on course to likely to be one of the Finalists for the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter, Hofrichter also joined select ‘Cuse company last week by eclipsing 10,000 career punting yards along with great punters of the past Brendan Carney (2003-06), Rob Long (2007-2010) and Mike Shafer (1999, 2000-02).
For his part, sophomore Szmyt also moved up on the school scoring list with his five extra points against Holy Cross passing Dave Jacobs (1975-78) for the sixth spot with 78 PATs and he’s made all but one of his 79 attempts, passing Jacobs and Bob Kolser (1949, 1950-51) on the career list (Nate Trout is the career leader with 195 PAT attempts from 1996-99).
Sterling and Szmyt and the “S” word ‘specialists’ accurately describe the best kicking game in the country.