Pfau relishes chance to kick for Cajuns
The probability UL placekicker Kyle Pfau could be working in the business world this fall as an ex-college kicker instead of booting field goals through the uprights for the Ragin’ Cajuns is probably too high for coach Billy Napier to consider very often.
Sometimes it’s best to simply be thankful for your blessings and avoid over-analyzing the path to receiving it.
“I wish we had him for several more years,” Napier said. “We got him for one and he’s made a difference.
“That kid deserves some credit, man.”
In Saturday’s 47-43 win over Arkansas State, Pfau’s impact was huge, with field goals of 45 and 52 yards, as well as several critical touchbacks.
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It was Pfau’s coming-out party of sorts at his new home.
With UL’s offense executing so expertly in the red zone all season long, many Cajun fans hadn’t had the opportunity of actually witnessing Pfau’s immense value to the team … until Saturday.
Napier and his colleagues have the advantage of seeing it in practice every week.
“I’ve got confidence in the kid,” Napier said. “We do two-minute drills every Thursday against each other and I can’t remember the last time he missed one.
“Every time we put him in an opportunity, he’s answered. He’s hit some deep ones like he did in the game at practice. The guy’s been one of the better performers that we have. He’s a good one.”
As much of a boost as Pfau’s two clutch field goals gave to his team and Cajun fans Saturday, no one was any happier than the kicker himself for his contribution.
Pfau couldn’t keep his emotions inside, leaping high into the air in celebration of the 52-yarder that came on the final play from scrimmage in the first half to give the Cajuns a 31-21 cushion.
No one could blame him for the elation.
It had been a long, disheartening road to get to that personal pot of gold.
“It meant a lot,” Pfau revealed in Monday’s UL press luncheon.
Coming out of Klein High in Texas, Pfau first went to LSU as a walk-on but didn’t win the job and then tried Oklahoma.
There he played behind second-team All-Big 12 kicker Austin Seibert, who is third in career scoring in OU history.
That didn’t pan out well for Pfau either.
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“In my past, I haven’t been given a lot of opportunities,” said Pfau, who UL inquired about after losing its kicker Stevie Artigue for the season with an injury. “I almost decided to quit before coming here. Coach (Billy) Napier and (UL special teams) coach (Matt) Powledge told me I could have an opportunity coming here and I believed them right away.
“They told me I had an opportunity to turn this program around and help us out special teams-wise and I believed them right away. I’m just excited I was able to come here and play and make an impact on our team.”
The desire to finally own a college starting job and it being in Louisiana made Napier’s offer even easier to accept.
Not only had Pfau lived in Baton Rouge for a year, but his father is originally from New Orleans.
So he was already quite familiar with the culture in South Louisiana. Plus, it was his first shot at being a starting collegiate placekicker.
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“It (sitting at OU) had me at a low point, but I was able to graduate and get my degree,” Pfau said. “I had two job opportunities. I almost decided to go in that direction, but coach Napier and coach Powledge made me come here and gave me an opportunity, so I said, ‘Why not?’”
And somehow Pfau was to remain patient through the limited field goal attempts over the first seven games.
“Obviously, I would like to get more kicks, but I don’t mind us scoring and running up the score,” Pfau said. “That’s also nice too. I treat practice just like a game. I try to make all of my kicks in practice as well. As long as I keep doing that, I’m going to be ready for every game that we play.”
For the season, Pfau has made five of his six field goal attempts and all 36 of his extra points.
His only miss was a 49-yarder against Coastal Carolina.
“I’m super excited about the opportunity,” Pfau said. “I’m just happy my coaches believe in me and are willing to give me that opportunity.”
As agonizing as the road to college success has been at times for Pfau, he maintains he doesn’t regret it.
In fact, he’s pretty convinced it’s led to his success with the Cajuns for several reasons.
For starters, Pfau explained that it was OU’s Seibert who communicated with Powledge about Pfau’s potential availability to get the ball rolling.
Secondly, competing against Seibert during his years in Norman, Oklahoma, made him better.
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“Honestly, it made both of us better,” Pfau said. “I’m a really big competitor. I don’t like to miss. I like to be perfect in everything I do, especially for kicking because you only have one opportunity.
“I don’t regret any of my past. I’m doing well this season, it’s probably because of my past and all the hard times I had to get through and being able to compete at such a high level at other schools.”
As a graduate-school senior, however, Pfau still had areas of his game to work on.
“The big thing that was pleasing to me is not only did the guy hit two field goals, but he kicked several touchbacks in the game, which was critical,” Napier said. “The kick location has been part of our issues in our coverage team and he’s got that fixed. Hopefully, he’ll continue to do that.”
With the Cajuns now 4-4 overall and 2-2 in Sun Belt play heading to Troy for a 2:30 p.m. game Saturday, the possibility of Pfau ending his career on a winning bowl team went up dramatically.
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Those elevated expectations are due large in part, says Napier, to Pfau’s big night against the preseason Sun Belt favorites.
“And the kick (field goal) before the half — that turn of events might have been the most-critical series of events in the game, in my opinion,” Napier said. “They turn it over, we execute two-minute before the half, we catch a slant there to get in field goal range, line up, and he booms it through the uprights to give us a little bit of shot in the arm at halftime. So, that kid deserves a lot of credit, man.
"He’s made a major impact on our team. And he’s a walk-on. He pays our university to go to graduate school, you know? And the guy just wants to play. He wants an opportunity to compete. So, a pretty special kid there.”