MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Saturday morning meant media day at Sun Life Stadium for Alabama’s football team. Crimson Tide players and coaches spent an hour answering questions from reporters in town to cover Monday’s BCS National Championship Game.
But Crimson Tide place-kickers Jeremy Shelley and Cade Foster did a little more than that.
They took advantage of the chance to scout the turf. Even though organizers didn’t allow anyone to go between the lines, Shelley and Foster walked along the side, getting a feel for how it might be Monday night.
“I really like it,” Foster said. “It’s solid. It’s like the green on a golf course. It’s not slippery, either. That’s good for planting (your foot).”
Both Foster and Shelley said they spent Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa watching the Orange Bowl, in which Florida State beat Northern Illinois 31-10. They said from what they saw during that game, conditions shouldn’t be an issue at Sun Life Stadium.
“It didn’t look like it was a problem then,” Shelley said. “Looking at the field now, it looks immaculate. It’s not slippery. Some fields are looser than others. The stadium is enclosed, so wind won’t be a big factor. “
If Monday’s game comes down to Shelley or Foster, they certainly have the experience for it. They’ve split Alabama’s place-kicking duties for three seasons. That covers 39 games, with them combining for 173 extra points and 57 field goals.
Shelley, a senior, handles extra points and short field goals. He made his career long of 44 yards in last year’s BCS National Championship Game.
Foster, a junior, handles kickoffs and kicks field goals of about 45 yards and longer. Before this year, he hadn’t made a field goal of more than 49 yards, but since then, he has managed 51-yarders against Michigan and Arkansas and a 52-yarder against Florida Atlantic.
“We know it could come down to us,” Foster said, “but we’re not putting pressure on ourselves. If it does come down to us, we’ll be ready.”
The forecast indicates weather shouldn’t be a problem for the two kickers when Alabama plays Notre Dame on Monday. The temperature is expected to be in the mid-70s with no rain.
However, Shelley said he never checks the forecast.
“Whatever they say, it’s always different in the stadium,” he said. “I always look at the weather and the wind and check the flight of the ball during warmups, then make any adjustments.”
In last year’s BCS National Championship Game, Shelley made five field goals, which is the most in Crimson Tide bowl history. His success carried over into this season, as he has made all 63 of his extra point tries and all 11 field goals.
But Shelley said he doesn’t worry about the streak. He referred to something Alabama coach Nick Saban often says about streaks of any kind, whether it’s wins, touchdowns, kicks, whatever.
“I can’t think about what happened before,” Shelley said. “Each kick has a history and a life of its own.”
When asked if he borrowed that from Saban, Shelley had only one response.
He just smiled.