While Villanova coach Andy Talley didn't feel comfortable asking freshman kicker Gerald Smith to attempt what would have been a 40-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter of Saturday night's eventual 28-21 loss to Colonial Athletic Association foe Towson at Johnny Unitas Stadium, his counterpart on the opposite sideline had no such trepidation.
On fourth-and-8 at the Wildcats' 24-yard line, senior kicker Sam Hurwitz converted a 41-yard field goal with 11:25 left in the final period. It was a season and career long for Hurwitz, but Tigers coach Rob Ambrose said he never considered going for it on fourth down.
"Sam has proven himself to be really, really relaxed in the field-goal game, especially the ones that maybe wouldn't be so high-percentage," Ambrose said Monday. "I sent him out there against Stony Brook [on Oct. 17] for a 51-yarder, and he missed it by about six inches. The mentality of a kicker [is], the more bunched up they are, most likely you don't know where the ball is going.
"But for him to be able to relax without any pressure feeling like the world was waiting on him to make it or miss it, he gets back to the true techniques that he has, and those are pretty good when he sticks to them. So the mind game of kickers is always challenging, but right now, he's handling it pretty well."
Hurwitz, who is 4-for-5 on field-goal attempts this fall, had missed an extra-point attempt after the team's first touchdown, but Ambrose said redshirt senior quarterback Connor Frazier, who is the holder, was responsible for the gaffe.
"This was on Connor," Ambrose said after the game. "I wanted to – I was not happy, and Connor made sure that I knew that it was not Sam's fault, it was his fault. We had a good conversation as we were driving down depending on where we were going to kick it, right hash, middle, left hash and all of that good stuff. Sam just said, 'Aim small, miss small.' We've done a really good job with field goals this year."
Ambrose also made it a point to single out punter Jake Ryder. The junior averaged 46.6 yards on five punts (including a 52-yarder) and dropped two punts inside Villanova's 20.
"If it wasn't for Jake Ryder having a rock star day, please write that down," Ambrose said. "I'm looking at the stats. His average was 46, his longest was a 52 and he put two inside the 20. Somebody please write that. That's a guy who was a, 'Hey, we're glad to have him on the team,' and now he's a weapon. He works really hard."