Much like his team, Daniel Andersen was inconsistent in 2011.
At times, the then-junior kicker was the only offensive scorer for the Blazers. At other times, he was missing potential game-winning kicks, and seemed as though he couldn’t find the uprights.
The Pike County native finished the season 13 of 22 (59 percent). He missed at least one field goal in seven of VSU’s 10 games last season.
During one stretch of the season, he missed five of eight kicks, including one that was blocked in a three-point loss to rival Delta State.
A major reason for Andersen’s struggles last season, especially during the stretch where he missed five of eight kicks, was because his holder, quarterback Austen Roberts, was injured and unable to play.
With Roberts sidelined, the Blazer coaching staff was forced to throw a backup holder into action, someone Andersen had little experience working with.
“It probably affected me a little bit,” Andersen said. “You get used to a holder and I think he was with me for two years. I knew his tendencies, when to go — I just knew his movements. But at the end, I am the one kicking the ball, and as long as the ball is down, I should be able to get it through the uprights.”
Despite having his struggles throughout the year, Andersen had his bright spots, too. In the Blazers’ 30-27 win over Albany State, he was an impressive 3 for 3 on field goal attempts, including a game-winner with 3:15 remaining. He accounted for the only offensive production in the Blazers’ 23-9 loss to Arkansas-Monticello, converting three field goals in the game.
Then there were the games where he struggled. Against Ouachita Baptist, he was just 1 for 3 kicking, his worst performance of the season.
Inconsistent to say the least.
Now, as he looks back on last season and prepares for the upcoming season, Andersen says he didn’t get discouraged through the misses, largely because of his faith and his understanding that he is on the team for more than football.
“No matter the result at the end, I give God all the glory,” said Andersen, an active member of VSU’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter. “Being a Christian, God is your complete mindset. Everything you do, everywhere you go.”
Heading into this season, Andersen is hoping to find more consistency in his game, but says he isn’t approaching the season any different than in years past.
“I pretty much have the same mentality every year — aim small, miss small,” Andersen said. “I don’t expect to miss. It happens. There is no perfect kicker.”
“(Daniel) has had a good camp,” Valdosta State head coach David Dean said. “He has kicked the ball well, very accurate. I am pleased with his progress so far.”
Andersen will also benefit this season from having a steady full-time holder. Backup quarterback Justin Roberts will take over the duties, something that excited Andersen when he was informed by coaches.
“We were roommates for a couple years,” Andersen said. “We have been close ever since we got into college. I was excited when they told me he was going to be the holder.”
“It is very important,” said Roberts of their relationship off the field. “My job is to make his job easier. You kind of only hear about the holder if something bad happens. So I am just catching the ball and putting it down. He is a great kicker, and he will take care of the rest.”
With a strong relationship off the field — both are active FCA members — Roberts and Andersen have been able to bring their relationship with each other and God onto the field.
“We are both strong Christians,” Roberts said. “We both say give God glory with no matter what happens.”
Along with serving as the team’s placekicker this season, Andersen is the leading candidate to serve as the Blazers’ punter.
If the Blazers started the season this weekend, rather than Sept. 1, Dean said Andersen would also hold the punting duties for the team. Currently, Andersen is competing against sophomore Dominic DeMasi for the punting job.
“They are both fighting for that position right now,” Dean said. “They both have good kicks, then they both have average kicks. We are looking for consistency with the two. But they are both neck-and-neck right now.”
For Andersen, who filled in as the punter in last season’s loss to North Alabama, there is no competition. He hopes DeMasi wins the job.
“Obviously, I backed up Jack (Fulford) the past two years,” Andersen said. “Dom has a stronger leg than I do. My hope is that he does get the position. But if it does come down to it, that the coaches do want me punting, I’ll be in there.”
Regardless, Anderson said he hopes to be able to help the Blazers win games this season, much like he did in 2010, when he kicked the Blazers to two victories.
He finished that season 11 of 15, including his 42-yard game-winning kick as time expired against Wingate, a kick that remains the highlight of his career.
“That definitely is the big topper,” said Andersen of the kick. “I have never had a kick like that before. It was definitely incredible.”
Much like his team, Daniel Andersen was inconsistent in 2011.
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Unfortunately for Valdosta State and Alabama-Huntsville, who have combined to appear in four straight national championship games, they won’t be meeting in title game on Memorial Day in Salem, Va.
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The Blazers (33-17) dropped their first game of the tournament Thursday, falling to Delta State 4-2 at UT Baseball Stadium.
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