Pitt football: Kicking tandem ready for big years


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When asked if, like many kickers, he has any unique superstitions during a game, Pitt sophomore Chris Blewitt channeled his inner Michael Scott, the bumbling boss from NBC’s “The Office.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m superstitious,” Blewitt said. “Maybe a little stitious.”

He cracked a smile and added, “Sorry, had to get that one in there.”

For any jokes off the field, though, Blewitt showed that he can handle pressure at the end of Pitt’s 30-27 win against Bowling Green in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl last season. Blewitt, in his first career opportunity for a winning kick, drilled a 39-yard field goal with 1:17 left to give the Panthers their season-ending win.

“It was fun,” he said. “It seemed like there were few opportunities [for winning kicks] in the season, so I was already pumped up for it and, now, it finally seemed like it was going to happen. I was just pretty pumped for it and I was ready to go.”

Blewitt made 14 of 18 field goals and 40 of 41 extra points as a freshman last season. Perhaps most impressive, he made five of his six attempts from 40 yards or longer.

While he said playing as a freshman last year was helpful, he also admitted that he started to break down physically at the end of his first college season. Blewitt said he has been dealing with a minor “heel issue” in training camp — which partially contributed to him making just four of eight attempts in Pitt’s scrimmage Saturday — and would take a few days off this week to get better.

“Obviously, it’s easy to overkick, stress ourselves, and I think I did that last year,” he said. “I had some groin issues, hamstring issues. So, this year, I’m really going to try to work back a little bit, take care of our bodies.”

Another benefit of having a year of playing experience under his belt is that Blewitt has been helping fellow specialist Ryan Winslow prepare for his first season on the field.

Winslow, a redshirt freshman punter, spent last year behind fifth-year senior Matt Yoklic. He said he learned from Yoklic that keeping an even keel is one of the best attributes a punter can have.

“Kind of indirectly, [he] showed me how to bounce back,” Winslow said. “He had some great games, he also had some bad games, so I kind of can learn from that. I’m not going to do great all the time, then when I do do well, I need to just keep a level head.”

Winslow said he spent most of his time last season in the weight room improving his leg strength as well as fine-tuning smaller parts of his game such as his drops.

“You only get a certain amount of plays a game, so you need to really take advantage of every opportunity,” he said. “It’s different than other guys who are maybe going to get 70 snaps a game or something like that.”

Yoklic also taught Winslow another, very specific skill he’ll need this season: holding the football. Since he kicked for his high school team, Winslow had never really held for field goals and extra points before college.

Assessing his new holder, Blewitt said Winslow has done a good job.

“Great hands, gets the ball down,” Blewitt said and, with one more pop-culture reference, paid homage to “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”

“Laces out, Dan!”


Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.

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