By Tom Lea
When looking back at UW's 21-19 loss to TCU in the Rose Bowl, it's pretty easy to also look back at Philip Welch's missed field goal and ask how much those three points would have changed the outcome of the game. It's not fair to point the blame at Welch because there were a number of shortcomings on both sides of the ball that hurt UW in that game, but his miss early in the second quarter points out how important the kicker is on a game-by-game basis.
As we start looking forward to the start of the 2011 season and what it will bring for the UW football program, it's comforting to know that the Badgers specialists are entering their senior year. They are clearly wily veterans that have seen just about everything throughout their tenure. They haven't however, seen an underclassmen start a game at the quarterback position. That, in short, will make their job even more important than it has been in the past.
Whether Jon Budmayr or any of the other quarterbacks earn the starting job, none of them will have any starting experience. So it's fair to assume that the offense will probably struggle at various points throughout the season. Therefore, should the offense stall out in field goal range, it's instrumental for Welch to be on the money so the offense can still walk away scoring points.
Look, the 2011 offense is not going to average over 40 points per game. It's just not. But it does have the ability to score around 30 per game with a strong rushing attack and a pretty reliable kicker that will help finish drives by adding some sort of points to the board.
As a senior Welch will certainly have high expectations for himself, especially since he is coming off a spring game where he struggled with his accuracy. He'll enter fall camp wanting to blast every kickoff through the back of the end zone and assert field position for his defensive teammates. He'll also want to make every field goal he's given an opportunity to kick. Frankly, with a new signal caller at the helm those are points UW can't afford to lose out on.
UP NEXT: No. 23 on our countdown is one of several underclassmen looking to make his mark in the program. Having really only played special teams to this point, he has a legitimate chance to enter 2011 as a starter.