I’m not specializing in specialists … it just kind of worked out that way this week. (Also, isn’t “specialist” not a very good title for Scott Harding, since he punts, returns punts, plays receiver and used to be the holder, too? … I’d say that’s more in the “generalist” category).
I chatted briefly with kicker Tyler Hadden after practice Tuesday. A senior now, he is injury-free and kicking with confidence. He’s made 6 of his 7 field goal attempts (the one miss hit an upright) and all 7 extra points.
“I’m just healthy, comfortable. Game-time experience, you can’t replace that,” he said. “And the 10 guys in front of me have all done a great job.”
With the way this Hawaii team seems to be taking shape with defense as the strength, there may be more field-position games with close scores like last Saturday’s and the opener against Washington … meaning Hadden’s role will likely be magnified.
He was a freshman when UH last played Colorado, when the Rainbow Warriors beat the Buffs in the 2011 season-opener. That was at sea level at Aloha Stadium. Saturday’s game at Folsom Field is almost a mile above that.
Today’s column addresses UH playing at altitude. As a kicker, Hadden is one of the few players who will actually have an advantage because of the thin air.
“Obviously the ball’s going to fly a little more. But it won’t change my technique,” Hadden said. “Absolutely, the thin air will help my range. Every game after warmups I give Demo (special teams coach Chris Demarest) a range.”
All other things being equal how much of a difference?
“I would say maybe 5 yards, up to 55,” he said. “I can hit 50 yards at Aloha Stadium.”
Also as a freshman in 2011, Hadden kicked a 47-yard field goal in UH’s last road win, 16-14 at Idaho. That was when he was splitting time with Kenton Chun. Chun kicked the game-winner in that one at the Kibbie Dome.
Since that game, UH is 0-13 on the road.