UK Football

Seiber could be kicked out of his job

After the night Lones Seiber had Saturday, he figured it would be a good idea to get away.

Seiber, the University of Kentucky's junior place-kicker, missed four of his six field-goal tries in the Wildcats' narrow escape over Middle Tennessee State. The most talked about miss was the potential game-clinching 29-yarder that was blocked; it set up MTSU's last-second Hail Mary that came up a yard short.

The Wildcats did not practice Sunday or Monday, so Seiber returned home to Knoxville to spend time with his young son. He turned off his cell phone and remained pretty much out of contact.

"The past couple of days I've been shying away from everything," he said. "I'm trying to build myself back up. It was a rough weekend. It took me about a day and a half or so to get over it."

Now that he's recovered emotionally, he finds himself in a battle to hold on to his job. Coach Rich Brooks announced this week that he will conduct an open competition for the place-kicking job, with Seiber battling redshirt freshman Ryan Tydlacka and senior J.J. Housley for the No. 1 spot in UK's game against Western Kentucky on Sept. 27.

Brooks has said on more than one occasion that Seiber is clearly the best kicker in practice, but those performances haven't translated to game day.

"That's why we're going to judge it from scratch," Brooks said of the kicking competition. "We're not going on past history. We're going on moving-forward history."

Tydlacka has carved a niche as the Wildcats' pooch punter but has never attempted a kick in a college game. And although he's now now challenging for the place-kicking job, watching Seiber struggle Saturday wasn't easy for him.

"That's just not something you want," Tydlacka said. "Lones is a friend of mine. Even watching on TV, if a kicker misses a kick, I feel sick to my stomach because of the fans. They're going to tear you apart."

Housley began the 2006 season as UK's starting kicker while Seiber was out with a hip injury. He missed his only field-goal attempt and was 7-for-8 on extra-point tries in two games before giving way to Seiber when he returned. Brooks said Housley doesn't have the leg for long-range kicks but is accurate from inside 40 yards.

To his credit, Seiber has always manned up and answered questions with no hesitation during his struggles. He said being challenged might get him out of his funk.

"This open competition could be the best thing for me," he said. "I know my ability. I'm good enough to do it. I just need to get over this mental block."

Seiber said that during games, he often lets his nerves get the better of him. That causes him to rush kicks and often results in low line drives.

"I need to stay focused on what got me to the game and keep the same stroke," he said. "I just need to trust my swing and trust what I'm doing."

While Seiber said he feels much better now than he did in the hours after the Middle Tennessee game, he'll have to wait almost two weeks for a chance at redemption if he retains his job.

"That's the worst part," he said. "I've got two weeks to dwell on this before I can prove something."