With Bucs training camp quickly approaching the PewterReport.com staff asks – and answers – 15 critical camp questions that need to be addressed this August as Tampa Bay prepares to embark on the 2019 season. Over the next 15 days PewterReport.com will offer up its thoughts on the topics that the Bucs will need to sort out in order for the team to be successful this season and possibly compete for a long-awaited playoff berth.
These are the things that the PewterReport.com staff will be following closely in camp, and invite our readers to share their thoughts as well in the comment section.
Who wins the kicking job, Matt Gay or Cairo Santos?
While a line as old as time states that death and taxes are the only certainties in life, questions surrounding the kicking position at a Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp may be a close third. After seeing Connor Barth, Rian Lindell, Patrick Murray, Kyle Brindza, Roberto Aguayo, Nick Folk and Chandler Catanzaro, 2019 will mark the eighth consecutive season in which the Bucs will see a new starting kicker for opening day.
It’s safe to say that the Bucs need stable kicking more than spectacular kicking at this point. In fact, only four kickers in Tampa Bay’s history have lasted 16 or more games with the team while keeping a career field goal percentage above 80%, but general manager Jason Licht believes he may have found a bit of both in the University of Utah product, Matt Gay.
A former soccer player at Utah Valley State, Gay joined the Utah football team as a walk-on but would go on to have two stellar seasons with the Utes. In his first season with the team, Gay would go on to lead the NCAA in points with 130 and field goals with 30 on 34 attempts. He was a perfect 40 out of 40 on extra points and earned himself consensus first-team All-American honors as well as the Lou Groza award for the nation’s top placekicker.
In 2018 he converted 26 of his 31 field goals and once again lead the conference in made kicks, as well as remaining perfect on 45 extra point attempts.
With a cannon for a leg, Gay’s career long came from 56 yards against San Jose State in 2017 and he finished his college career with a 73% field goal percentage on 11 kicks deeper than 50 yards.
If it came down to leg strength the edge goes to Gay but the race is far from over as Santos put up a very solid season for the Bucs in 2018 (apart from his two missed field goals against the Saints in week 14.) Apart from a disappointing day in New Orleans, Santos drilled nine of his 10 field goal attempts last season, converted on all 17 of his extra point attempts and holds a career field goal percentage of 83.1% over his five seasons in the NFL. The weight of an entire fan base and a seemingly all-too-real kicking curse will weigh on the shoulders of both players through camp as the battle could rage all the way through Tampa Bay’s final preseason game.