Ryan Tydlacka has never kicked a field goal in a college game, but he's not nervous about his first career start for Kentucky on Saturday night.
Tydlacka (pronounced tid-LOTCH-ka), who was named by UK Coach Rich Brooks as the team's new field-goal kicker on Thursday, said he got all of the nerves out early in his career.
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"Back in grade school I used to get nervous," Tydlacka said. "I saw a sports psychologist in eighth grade. I was that nervous all the time with soccer, track, everything. Ever since then I haven't been nervous at all."
He said the therapy helped him to focus, breathe and think about other things, which could all come in handy for the redshirt freshman from Trinity.
Tydlacka, who beat out friend and teammate Lones Seiber for the field-goal kicking duties, said kicking is "pretty much all mental."
"In other positions you can go out there and work harder than people," he said. "Kicking, you work hard in practice, but once you go out there, it's all mental."
The mental part seemed to be an issue for Seiber, UK's starting kicker for much of the past two seasons.
The junior missed four field-goal attempts against Middle Tennessee State two weeks ago, which helped lead to the kicker competition this week.
The biggest miss was perhaps the potential game-clinching 29-yarder that was blocked. It set up the Raiders' last-second Hail Mary that came up a yard short.
"He's got to learn to handle the situations, expectations and the pressure," Brooks said of Seiber. "He's got a lot of talent and we hope he'll settle down and get back in there at some point."
Seiber hasn't missed an extra point in 10 tries this season, which led Brooks to keep him in that role. Senior Tim Masthay will continue to handle kickoffs.
Brooks said the competition this week was relatively close between Seiber and Tydlacka.
"Over the six-day period where we charted kicks (Tydlacka) was probably one or two better in accuracy, coupled with the fact that Lones' last outing was not up to standard," the coach said.
Brooks also said he didn't expect there to be a weekly competition for kicking duties.
"We'll probably just go on results moving forward," he said.
Tydlacka, a two-time First Team All-State kicker, made a 42-yarder in the spring Blue-White game. In Tydlacka's senior year at Trinity, he was 5-for-7 on field-goal attempts.
This season, Tydlacka has served as a "pooch" punter in the first three games. He said he's excited to go out and try to score points.
"I'm pumped, definitely pumped," Tydlacka said.
He said there are no hard feelings between him and Seiber.
"Both of us want the best for each other," Tydlacka said. "We were just talking about it last night playing ping-pong. We're still friends."