With kickers, you don't truly appreciate the good ones until they're gone. Last season Cajun fans probably didn't realize replacing the most accurate kicker of the last decade in college football would be so hard. Brett Baer had made things so easy that three points were a given as long as the offense could reach the opponent's 35 yard line.
Entering the 2013 season, junior college transfer Stephen Brauchle was given the tough task of following Baer. Brauchle wasn't terrible by any means, he converted 8 of 13 field goal attempts with a long of 38. After missing in his first college attempt, Brauchle would bounce back to convert on eight of his next ten tries.
Then suddenly the wheels seemed to fall off. In back-to-back weeks he failed to convert either of his two attempts. This inability to convert kicks caused Coach Mark Hudspeth to give kickoff specialist Hunter Stover the job in the final weeks of the season. Stover would go on to knock home the game-winning field in the 2013 New Orleans Bowl. The 27-yarder was Stover's only attempt of the season.
Both kickers enter 2014 in a battle to become the everyday kicker for the Cajuns. At this point throughout camp, neither has separated himself from the other. Joining in the competition is junior Carlos Alvarez. Coach Hudspeth has been known to ride the hot hand, so don't be shocked if you see both Stover and Brauchle get a shot on August 30. The season opener sees Louisiana welcome Southern University to Cajun Field.
If the Cajuns want to win the Sun Belt outright for the first time in 2014 they will need to find an answer to the kicking conundrum.