Nov 26, 1939 : UCLA Bruins, USC Trojans Remain On Course To Collide In Very First War For Roses

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Notre Dame left halfback HARRY STEVENSON (# 32) watches as Fighting Irish quarterback STEVE SITKO (# 8) and another teammate halt the forward progress of USC Trojans star quarterback GRENNY LANSDELL during the exciting intersectional tussle watched by the frenzied crowd of 50,000 spectators at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. Despite the fact that the # 7 ranked Fighting Irish piled up more total offensive yardage than their guests (410-301) and only threw two interceptions as directly compared to the four turnovers committed by the visitors, it was, however, the # 4 ranked Trojans who never trailed in the thrilling contest and, thus, joyfully traveled back to Los Angeles having confirmed their status as a legitimate contender for the coveted, if only mythical, national championship title. Lansdell led the way for USC with 101 yards (4.2 avg) and two touchdowns on the ground while deputy Trojans quarterback Ambrose Schindler sealed the deal late in the fourth quarter by racing 40 yards for the clinching score right after Notre Dame’s gamble on fourth down in their own half of the field failed.
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Results – November 25, 1939
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UCLA Bruins 13 – Oregon State Beavers 13
Washington Huskies 20 – Oregon Ducks 13
California Golden Bears 32 – Stanford Indians 14
USC Trojans 20 – Notre Dame Fighting Irish 12

PACIFIC COAST CONFERENCE standings – Nov 26, 1939
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USC Trojans ……………………………. won 4 … lost 0 … tied 1
UCLA Bruins ……………………………. won 3 … lost 0 … tied 2
* Oregon State Beavers …………….. won 5 … lost 1 …. tied 1
Washington Huskies …………………. won 3 … lost 3 … tied 0
* Oregon Ducks ………………………… won 3 … lost 3 … tied 1
Washington State Cougars ………… won 2 … lost 4 … tied 0
* California Golden Bears ………….. won 2 … lost 5 … tied 0
* Stanford Indians …………………….. won 0 … lost 6 … tied 1

(Asterisk indicates that team’s Pacific Coast Conference schedule completed)

NOTE — only results of games involving the eight Pacific Coast Conference schools actually eligible to go to the Rose Bowl are included in the standings above; the teams’ overall records at this point in time are : USC Trojans (6-0-1), UCLA Bruins (5-0-3), Oregon State Beavers (7-1-1), Washington State Cougars (4-4-0), Washington Huskies (4-4-0), Oregon Ducks (3-4-1), California Golden Bears (3-7-0), Stanford Indians (0-7-1)

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USC Trojans quarterback GRENNY LANSDELL (upper right), the two-time consensus First Team All-Pacific Coast Conference choice who, impressively, posted at least 100 yards rushing in five of his team’s ten games played during the 1939 NCAA campaign, brandishes a stiff arm as he bucks the Notre Dame defensive line. The influential Lansdell later made a critical interception in Fighting Irish territory early on in the fourth quarter and then carried the ball three times for 37 yards and scored his second touchdown of the game on the ensuing Trojans drive. Identifiable USC players in this photo are the pair of Third Team All-Pacific Coast Conference selections from the Associated Press in 1939, left tackle HOWARD STOECKER (# 68) as well as right guard BEN SOHN (# 55), while easily recognizable for Notre Dame are left tackle TOM GALLAGHER (# 84) and right end JOHNNY KELLY (# 18), the senior captain from Rutherford, New Jersey.
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Pacific Coast Conference scoring leaders as of Nov 26, 1939
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Grenny Lansdell, USC …………………. 7 ga …. 54 pts …. 9 tds
Jim Kisselburgh, Oregon State …….. 9 ga …. 36 pts …. 6 tds
Jay Graybeal, Oregon ………………….. 8 ga …. 32 pts …. 3 tds ….. 5 xp, 3 fg
Kenny Washington, UCLA …………… 8 ga …. 30 pts …. 5 tds
Don Jones, Washington ……………….. 8 ga …. 19 pts …. 3 tds ….. 1 xp
Ambrose Schindler, USC ……………… 7 ga …. 18 pts …. 3 tds
Jackie Robinson, UCLA ……………….. 8 ga …. 14 pts …. 2 tds ….. 2 xp
Len Younce, Oregon State ……………. 9 ga …. 14 pts …. 0 tds …. 11 xp, 1 fg

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Hungarian Revolutionary Changes American Football Forever

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Cornell University head coach TOM HARP scratches his head as sophomore phenom PETE GOGOLAK (# 86) demonstrates his revoluationary “soccer-style” placekicking motion for the benefit of the cameraman.
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November 13th, 1956 — Nine days after the Soviet Union sent a large military force into Hungary in order to suppress a major national uprising that had spawned from a student demonstration, a medical doctor living in the capital city of Budapest makes a fateful decision that will forever change the way the game of gridiron football is played in the United States of America. As night time approaches the picturesque city split in two by the Danube River, 14-year-old PETE GOGOLAK, his younger brother Charlie and his two parents all depart on a 20-mile journey to the Austrian border by foot. After successfully avoiding both Soviet troops and Hungarian border guards as well as negotiating all other obstacles such as barbed wired fences, the Gogolak family made it into Austria and ultimately settled in upstate New York after the father, John, landed a position at St. Lawrence State Hospital.

The Ogdenburg Free Academy has no soccer team to play on so the eldest of the two Gogolak brothers decides to try his luck at American football (in part, because he has noticed that American girls seem to fancy football players) and the athletic lad, who had been a rather promising soccer playing back in Hungary, gets the hang of the new game quickly and makes the local high school varsity as a two-way end.

gogolak-cornell-gameSeptember 30th, 1961 — Appearing in his very first varsity game at the collegiate level, Cornell University’s “soccer-style” kicker PETE GOGOLAK gives an immediate demonstration of his power by slamming the opening kickoff against the crossbar at the back of the Colgate University end zone.

To clearly show that had not simply been beginner’s luck, Gogolak proceeded to launch his next two kickoffs between the goalpost’s two uprights while the sophomore is perfect on all four of his extra point attempts, as well. A few weeks later, the Hungarian immigrant hammered a 41-yard field goal against Princeton University to register the first three-pointer of his highly notable collegiate career. Indeed, the young Gogolak (16/17 XP, 3 FG) was one of few bright spots for a 1961 Cornell University football team that finished with the record of three wins against six losses.

It should be remembered that, even well into the early 1960s, any field goal successfully kicked from an official distance of forty yards or longer was rightfully considered to be a commendable achievement. Of course, as this blog has been reviewing, college football teams, as a whole, just did not kick a great many field goals to begin with during the time period that Gogolak was appearing for Cornell University. The novel soccer-style kicking specialist, in fact, did not kick any field goals at all for the Big Red as a junior in 1962 but was perfect on all twenty extra point attempts and, significantly, it was the reliable Gogolak’s points after touchdowns which provided the critical margin of victory for head coach Tom Harp’s troops in no fewer than three of Cornell’s games —it should certainly be noted here that the Big Red won just four contests that term.

(Gogolak was 0/5 on field goal attempts as a junior for Cornell in 1962 but all five efforts were at an an official distance of 46 yards or longer)

cornell-gogolak-44November 9th, 1963 — Cornell University senior placekicker Pete Gogolak successfully converts all four of his extra point attempts in the Big Red’s 28-25 triumph over Ivy League rival Brown University and, in doing so, not only provides the margin of victory in the game against the Bears but also breaks the existing NCAA collegiate record for most consecutive extra point attempts without a miss. Gogolak, whose only missed extra point throughout his entire career at Cornell had, ironically enough, occurred against Brown during his sophomore season, surges past the previous standard of 38 consecutive extra points set by Pete Smolaovich of New Mexico State two years earlier. Three more extra points in Cornell’s final two games of the 1963 campaign means that Gogolak will conclude his collegiate career with his own NCAA record for consecutive extra points made standing at forty-four.

(This particular record will not remain in the books for long as Pete’s younger brother, Charlie Gogolak, is by 1963 the sophomore placekicker for Princeton University who will, ultimately, reset the NCAA mark at 50 consecutive extra points made only short two years later.)

Gogolak enjoyed a banner senior campaign for the Big Red in 1963 while, among other things, setting the Cornell school record with a 50-yard field goal against Lehigh University as well as the Ivy League record with a 45-yard three-pointer in the contest with Columbia University that year. The high profile Hungarian, who had, along with his younger brother, by this time already caught the attention of sportswriters all across the country, also broke the hearts of Yale University supporters by kicking his second field goal of that Ivy League clash with only 45 seconds left on the game clock. During that 1963 season that saw Cornell count five wins in nine games, Gogolak was a flawless 18/18 on extra point attempts and counted a total of six field goals made — no less than four of which had come from what were at the time acknowledged to be rather respectable lengths (45, 50, 41 & 45 yards), too.

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None of the fourteen teams in the far more established National Football League were willing to risk even a late round pick on the Ivy Leaguer from upstate New York with the most unusual kicking style. On the other hand, the Buffalo Bills of the upstart American Football League were more than happy to take a 12th round flier on Gogolak, who was the 92nd overall player selected in the 1964 AFL Draft. And so, in his very first professional game, a pre-season tilt against the New York Jets in Tampa, Florida, the Hungarian Revolutionary rewarded Buffalo’s faith and strutted his stuff by promptly kicking a 57-yard field goal — this was actually longer than either the existing NFL or AFL records at that time although, technically, it did not ‘count’ officially because of the contest’s ‘exhibition’ status.

(Bear in mind that, at this point in time, the goalposts in both the NFL as well as the AFL were stationed on the actual goal line, itself)

What made Pete Gogolak such a legitimate weapon like no other placekicker who had ever come before him was not so much his accuracy on extra points but rather his ability to put points on the scoreboard via long-range field goals.

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Bednarski Breaks With Football Tradition

texas-bednarskiOctober 19, 1957 —— After losing by fourteen points to the # 1 ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the annual Red River War only seven days earlier, the underdog TEXAS LONGHORNS were ready to unveil a major surprise of history-making proportions against the # 10 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks on the road in Fayetteville the next week.

Texas had caught an early break in the first quarter when one of their punts inadvertently touched an Arkansas player but the Longhorns could not advance further than the Razorbacks 23-yard line. On fourth down, Texas lined up in an apparent field goal formation with the notable exception that the Longhorns placekicker was not in a direct line with both the holder and center, as normally would be the case. “Fake! Fake! Fake!” yelled out the Arkansas defensive players suspiciously.

However, there was absolutely nothing phony about the Texas placekicker, FRED BEDNARSKI, a junior reserve fullback who typically made his limited appearances as the Longhorns kickoff specialist but had never actually attempted a field goal at the collegiate level before. Within short order, the ball was snapped and the native of Poland proved Akers to be wrong with what went into the books as a 40-yard field goal. And, by providing Texas with its first points of the 1957 Southwest Conference game against Arkansas, the unheralded Bednarski becomes the very first player in the history of either collegiate or professional football to successfully kick a field goal by employing the so-called “soccer-style” motion.

Bednarski was a very small child when his part of Poland was initially invaded by Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union and then overrun by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Despite growing up in, first, an internment facility for families of slave laborers and, then, a postwar camp for “Displaced Persons”, Bednarski still had had the opportunity to play a lot of soccer as a youth. After coming to the United States, Bednarski took up the sport of American gridiron football and quickly became a rather competent fullback for Travis High School in Austin, Texas.

Bednarski “walked on” at the University of Texas and immediately impressed the Longhorns coaching staff with his ability to consistently send his kickoffs deep and often beyond the end zone, as well. Because of college football’s very strict substitution rules then in effect during the 1950s and the fact that Texas had a few other fullbacks who legitimately deserved to be rated higher on the depth chart than the Polish immigrant, Bednarski’s chances to show off his field goal kicking skills anywhere other than on the practice pitch were extremely limited. However, when the legendary Darrell Royal became the Longhorns head coach in 1957, the sly tactician immediately started using Bednarksi regularly as a kickoff specialist.

Bednarski only ever had three chances to kick a field goal for Texas, all of which came during the 1957 NCAA campaign (incidentally, two years before the collegiate goalposts were widened), and the 40-yarder in the 17-0 win over Arkansas turned out to be the only successful attempt of his three-year varsity career. The substitution rules simply made it too impractical for the Longhorns to have to remove another player from the duration of any given quarter in order for Texas to be able to position their long-range Polish cannon. In Rick Gonsalves’ book, “Placekicking In The NFL : A History And Analysis”, the highly acclaimed bench boss Royal later conceded, “I was foolish, too, not to use (Bednarski) on more field goals.”

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Physics Of Placekicking : Straight-On vs Soccer-Style

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Author MARK FISCHETTI, in his fine article, “Why Do Pro Kickers Opt For Soccer Style?”, scientifically explains why Newton’s Second Law of Motion always compelled “straight-on” placekicking to become a thing of the past :

“When a toe-baller kicks (a football in the classic ‘straight-on’ manner), only the cross-section of the front tip of his shoe contacts the ball. In soccer style, the whole instep of the shoe makes contact. The greater surface area of contact gives the kicker more control over the ball’s flight path. Simply put another way, a toe-baller has to strike the ball almost perfectly head-on to put it on a successful path because the contact point is so small. In a soccer kick, the greater contact area provides for more margin of error.

Soccer-style also imparts more force from the human to the pigskin, sending it farther. For a toe-baller, all the force is generated by the kicking leg, which swings in line under the hip like a pendulum. With soccer style, approaching the ball from the side allows the kicker’s hip to rotate, which creates more foot velocity. “The angled approach allows for more use of hip momentum, which creates a more rotational momentum – more angular momentum – in the foot,” says William Barfield, a specialist in biomechanics and orthopedic science at the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina.

More angular momentum creates greater foot speed which delivers more force to the ball.”

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/football-why-do-pro-kickers-use-soccer/

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Justin Medlock
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UCLA Bruins placekicker JUSTIN MEDLOCK (# 7), who equaled a school record by registering nine extra points in a game against Rice University and also established a new Westwood standard by booming six career field goals of fifty yards or longer, sidefoots the ball just beyond the reach of the leaping USC Trojans defensive linemen during the annual intra-city clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 2, 2006 (AP photo/Chris Carlson)

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Establishing UCLA’s All-Time Placekicking Records

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September 9th, 1972 — UCLA placekicker EFREN HERRERA, the junior who had booted ten field goals for a Bruins team that had won just two of its ten games the previous season, sidefoots a short field goal with just 22 seconds remaining to provide the Westwood warriors with an incredible upset victory over the two-time defending NCAA champion University of Nebraska, a monumental loss which abruptly halted the mighty Cornhuskers’ 32-game winning streak. The native of Guadalajara, Mexico, who did not move to the United States until he had reached the age of fifteen also played varsity soccer while at UCLA and made consecutive appearances in the 1972 & 1973 NCAA tournament finals, respectively, although the Bruins did succumb to the contemporary powerhouse of that era, St. Louis University, on both occasions. Herrera, who was a high draft pick of the Los Angeles Aztecs of the old North American Soccer League, ultimately chose to become a professional in the National Football League after setting a multitude of UCLA school records including most career field goals from 40 yards or more.
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MOST EXTRA POINTS, GAME
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5 ….. Joe Fleming ……………………………….. vs San Diego State, 1926
7 ….. Ernie Case …………………………………. vs Montana, 1946
8 ….. Kurt Zimmerman ……………………….. vs California, 1965
9 ….. ZENON ANDRUSYSHYN ………….. vs Pitt, 1968
9 ….. EFREN HERRERA …………………….. vs Utah, 1973
9 ….. JUSTIN MEDLOCK …………………… vs Rice, 2005
9 ….. KA’IMI FAIRBAIRN ………………….. vs Arizona, 2012

MOST FIELD GOALS, GAME
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2 ….. Joe Fleming ………………………………. vs Redlands, 1926
2 ….. Zenon Andrusyshyn ………………….. vs Tennessee, 1967
2 ….. Zenon Andrusyshyn ………………….. vs Pitt, 1967
2 ….. Zenon Andrusyshyn ………………….. vs Washington State, 1967
3 ….. Zenon Andrusyshyn ………………….. vs Oregon State, 1967
3 ….. Zenon Andrusyshyn ………………….. vs Oregon State, 1969
3 ….. Zenon Andrusyshyn ………………….. vs Washington, 1969
4 ….. Efren Herrera …………………………… vs Washington, 1971
4 ….. Norm Johnson ………………………….. vs Colorado, 1981
4 ….. John Lee …………………………………… vs Oregon, 1982
4 ….. John Lee …………………………………… vs Stanford, 1983
6 ….. JOHN LEE ………………………………… vs San Diego State, 1984

MOST EXTRA POINTS, SEASON
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12 ….. Joe Fleming ……………………………… 1926
18 ….. Ken Snelling …………………………….. 1942
22 ….. Ernie Case ……………………………….. 1946
23 ….. Bob Watson …………………………….. 1949
31 ….. Zenon Andrusyshyn …………………. 1967
33 ….. Zenon Andrusyshyn …………………. 1969
45 ….. Efren Herrera ………………………….. 1972
60 ….. Efren Herrera ………………………….. 1973
62 ….. CHRIS SAILER ………………………… 1998

MOST FIELD GOALS, SEASON
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6 ……. Joe Fleming ……………………………… 1926
6 ……. Kurt Zimmerman ……………………… 1966
11 ….. Zenon Andrusyshyn ………………….. 1967
15 ….. Peter Boermeester ……………………. 1978
15 ….. John Lee …………………………………… 1982
16 ….. John Lee …………………………………… 1983
32 ….. JOHN LEE ………………………………… 1984

LONGEST FIELD GOAL
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35 yards ….. Joe Fleming ……………………… vs Occidental, 1926
47 yards ….. Billy Bob Williams ……………. vs Montana, 1936
48 yards ….. Larry Zeno ……………………….. vs Air Force, 1962
52 yards ….. Zenon Andrusyshyn ………….. vs Oregon State, 1967
52 yards ….. Zenon Andrusyshyn ………….. vs Washington, 1969
55 yards ….. Frank Corral ……………………… vs Oregon, 1976
56 yards ….. CHRIS SAILER ………………….. vs Oregon, 1997

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ucla-john-lee-kicker2UCLA Bruins record-setting placekicker JOHN LEE (# 25) was the extremely accurate two-time All-America honoree (1984 & 1985) who still holds the NCAA single-season record for most field goals per game (2.6 avg, 29 FG in 11 regular season contests). Born Min-Jong Lee in Seoul, South Korea, the youthful “John” originally played baseball and soccer after arriving in the United States as a 12-year-old sixth-grader in 1976. A real scoring weapon from the very moment he first won the UCLA placekicking job as a freshman, Lee would set a new NCAA record by kicking no fewer than six field goals in one game as the Bruins barely edged traditional underdog San Diego State 18-15 in September of 1984 (this new mark lasted only a few weeks as matters turned out but still remains the all-time PAC-12 Conference standard).

Including the Bruins’ 39-37 triumph over the defending NCAA champion University of Miami Hurricanes in the 1985 Fiesta Bowl, the machine-like Lee totaled 32 field goals after 12 games for the UCLA Bruins as a junior in 1984. It is relevant to note that 32 field goals would be 96 points, or exactly 16 touchdowns with no extra points added. It is, indeed, rather thought-provoking to remember that ALL elite-level collegiate football contests produced a combined 47 field goals over the the course of the 1938 NCAA campaign (the very same year that junior left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON was the primary scoring weapon for Westwood’s gridiron warriors).

Unlike the accomplished Kenny Washington, who never got to play for UCLA in Pasadena, the acclaimed John Lee made three appearances with the Bruins in the prestigious Rose Bowl game (1983, 1984 & 1986).

Lee still holds the all-time NCAA record for most career games with at least four field goals made (six) and, significantly, the former UCLA Bruins placekicker also still shares the all-time NCAA record for most career games “in which field goal(s) provided the winning margin” (ten) … it is certainly most interesting to remember that Kenny Washington’s 1938 & 1939 UCLA teams could have changed the results of five of their football games from those two seasons had the Bruins been able to manage, in modern terms, either a ‘simple’ extra point or a ‘short-range’ field goal.

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UCLA Field Goals 1927-1966

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The official stationed under the goal posts at the back of the end zone looks up towards the sky in a bid to follow the flight of the football as the white-shirted UCLA Bruins attempt a field goal during the Pacific Coast Conference clash with their “big brothers to the north”, the University of California Golden Bears, at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley on October 17th, 1936. Thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from sophomore left halfback Hal Hirshon to senior right end Bob Schroeder as well as a 33-yard field goal from fullback Billy Bob Williams, the upstart UCLA Bruins were able to defeat the far more established California Golden Bears for the very first time in school history. Accordingly, jubilant UCLA supporters who had made the journey up from Los Angeles celebrated by joyfully taking down the goal posts.
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Talented UCLA right halfback JOE FLEMING kicked no fewer than six field goals while scoring 13 touchdowns and adding a dozen extra points during a spectacular sophomore campaign in 1926 but, despite scoring another nine touchdowns and kicking eleven extra points over the course of his next two varsity seasons, never did boot any more three-pointers for the Bruins ever again. Nevertheless, another 40 years would pass before Fleming’s single-season field goal total was finally equaled by KURT ZIMMERMAN, a senior who just so happened to be the very first true “kicking specialist” in the history of the UCLA Bruins football program. Furthermore, it was not until 1967 that another UCLA placekicker (ZENON ANDRUSYSHYN, the very first “soccer-style” placekicker the Westwood school ever sent out onto the gridiron field) was able to duplicate Joe Fleming’s notable feat of having kicked two field goals for the Bruins in any one game (that being against Redlands University in 1926).

Coincidentally enough, 1926 was also the very last year that saw goalposts on a collegiate football field located on the actual goal line, itself. Because of injuries directly resulting from this particular placement and the fact that the goalposts, themselves, sometimes interfered with play (specifically, in passing and punting situations), the goalposts were moved ten yards to the back of the end zone. Although the National Football League, in an effort to increase field goals and, thus, overall scoring, moved its goalposts back to the goal line in 1933 (where they stayed until the conclusion of the 1973 NFL campaign), the collegiate game never reversed its course.

ALL-TIME UCLA BRUINS : FIELD GOALS, FROM 1927 THRU 1966
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1933 ….. 27 yrd FG ….. Mike FRANKOVICH, vs Utah *
1934 ….. 25 yrd FG ….. Bill MURPHY, vs Oregon
1936 ….. 47 yrd FG ….. Billy Bob WILLIAMS, vs Montana
1936 ….. 33 yrd FG ….. Billy Bob WILLIAMS, vs California
1936 ….. 24 yrd FG ….. Billy Bob WILLIAMS, vs Oregon State
1939 ….. 40 yrd FG ….. Jack SOMMERS, vs Oregon
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1941 ….. 25 yrd FG ….. Ken SNELLING, vs Florida
1942 ….. 37 yrd FG ….. Ken SNELLING, vs Oregon State
1947 ….. 24 yrd FG ….. Benny REIGES, vs Iowa
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1952 ….. 27 yrd FG ….. Pete DAILEY, vs Stanford
1952 ….. 22 yrd FG ….. Pete DAILEY, vs USC
1955 ….. 25 yrd FG ….. Jim DECKER, vs Washington
1955 ….. 19 yrd FG ….. Jim DECKER, vs USC
1957 ….. 35 yrd FG ….. Steve GERTMAN, vs Illinois
1957 ….. 33 yrd FG ….. Kirk WILSON, vs California
1958 ….. 19 yrd FG ….. Kirk WILSON, vs California
1959 ….. 21 yrd FG ….. Ivory JONES, vs USC
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1960 ….. 27 yrd FG ….. Ivory JONES, vs Air Force
1960 ….. 19 yrd FG ….. Ivory JONES, vs Utah
1961 ….. 32 yrd FG ….. Bob SMITH, vs Ohio State
1961 ….. 26 yrd FG ….. Bob SMITH, vs California
1961 ….. 31 yrd FG …… Bob SMITH, vs USC
1962 ….. 28 yrd FG ….. Bob SMITH, vs Minnesota – (Rose Bowl)
1962 ….. 28 yrd FG ….. Larry ZENO, vs Ohio State
1962 ….. 48 yrd FG ….. Larry ZENO, vs Air Force
1962 ….. 35 yrd FG ….. Larry ZENO, vs USC
1963 ….. 23 yrd FG ….. Larry ZENO, vs Stanford
1964 ….. 25 yrd FG ….. Larry ZENO, vs Pitt
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1965 ….. 37 yrd FG ….. Kurt ZIMMERMAN, vs Michigan State
1965 ….. 31 yrd FG ….. Kurt ZIMMERMAN, vs Penn State
1965 ….. 34 yrd FG ….. Kurt ZIMMERMAN, vs Syracuse
1965 ….. 31 yrd FG ….. Kurt ZIMMERMAN, vs Air Force
1965 ….. 21 yrd FG ….. Kurt ZIMMERMAN, vs Stanford
1966 ….. 32 yrd FG ….. Kurt ZIMMERMAN, vs Syracuse
1966 ….. 25 yrd FG ….. Kurt ZIMMERMAN, vs Missouri
1966 ….. 17 yrd FG ….. Kurt ZIMMERMAN, vs Rice
1966 ….. 28 yrd FG ….. Kurt ZIMMERMAN, vs Air Force
1966 ….. 36 yrd FG ….. Kurt ZIMMERMAN, vs Washington
1966 ….. 21 yrd FG ….. Kurt ZIMMERMAN, vs Stanford

* Note — UCLA quarterback MIKE FRANKOVICH notched his three-pointer versus the University of Utah Utes in 1933 by means of the old “drop kick” maneuver and remains the last Bruins player ever to successfully kick a field goal in that manner.

Contemporary football fans seeking to understand just how rare successful field goal attempts were back when KENNY WASHINGTON starred at left halfback for the UCLA Bruins and, indeed, for many, many years thereafter, as well, might want to consider that, in 1938, there were a total of 47 field goals scored in all NCAA football games played, which translated into an average of just about one three-pointer for every five games contested. During the five-year period that led up to the outlawing of the flat placekicking tee in 1989, all NCAA football games played had produced a total of at least 1,350 field goals for five consecutive seasons straight – those figures translated into an average of roughly three field goals scored for every single game contested. So, in other words, the college teams such as the UCLA Bruins of TROY AIKMAN’s era were fifteen times more likely to successfully kick a field goal in any given football game as directly to college teams such as the Westwood warriors from the Kingfish’s time period.

It is very interesting to note that the UCLA Bruins struggled with placekicking even well after the NCAA liberalized the substitution rules in 1941 (which made it feasible for a certain specific player to come off the bench for the sole purpose of kicking extra points and field goals an unlimited number of times over the course of any given game). The 1946 UCLA squad that made an appearance in the prestigious Rose Bowl contest on New Year’s Day racked up an impressive total of fifty touchdowns in eleven games played that year with left halfback ERNIE CASE establishing a new school record by booting seven extra points in the 61-7 bombardment of the University of Montana Grizzlies. Still, the Bruins placekickers were barely able to convert more than half of their collective extra point attempts (54.0%) and also failed to kick even one field goal over the course of that entire season, as well.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association did change the substitution rules again in 1953, reverting back to an extremely limited policy that was very, very close to the old system that had been abolished prior to the 1941 college football season; the NCAA powers that be continued to tinker with the substitution rules until the modern-day “unlimited substitution” policy (which enabled teams to deploy separate offensive, defensive and special teams units in earnest) was adopted for the 1965 NCAA campaign.

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UCLA Bruins placekicker KURT ZIMMERMAN (# 37) easily established a new school record for career field goals by booting eleven three-pointers in just two seasons. The 175-pounder, who, ironically enough, came by way of Redlands, California, did not attempt any extra points or field goals as a sophomore for the Bruins in 1964. Nevertheless, Zimmerman went on to smash all existing UCLA career records for both extra points scored (63) as well as accuracy (98.44%).
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Contemporary football fans might find it rather interesting to note that the overwhelming majority (40/52, or 76.92%) of all players on the 1964 UCLA Bruins varsity roster are listed as having a position on both offense and defense.
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The NCAA also made two significant moves during the decade that followed World War II in an on-going effort to generate more successful placekicking in the collegiate football game. The first major rule change, which came in 1950, allowed for the use of flat kicking tees that were up to two inches high. This development made it much easier for placekickers to “get under the ball” and, thus, prevent extra point and field goal attempts from being blocked by opponents who leap into the air with their arms raised high.

Even with the aid of the flat kicking tee, it was not until 1958 that the number of field goals scored in all Division I-A college football games finally reached a total of one hundred or more. So, for the very next season, the NCAA decided to extend the width of the goalposts to a measurement of 23 feet 4 inches. Still, the widened goalposts in 1959 did not produce an immediate tidal wave of field goal scoring (total of 109 field goals in all games played, an increase of just six from the year before).

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On Placekicking During Kenny Washington’s Era Of Single Wing Football

ucla-39-kwash-close-upContinuing to ride the same train of thought that KENNY WASHINGTON’s 1938 & 1939 UCLA BRUINS could have changed the outcomes of five of their football games with better placekicking, it should also be pointed out that a great many collegiate squads all throughout the country in the late 1930s would have been most proud to boast of more accurate placekicking, too.

It should always be remembered that, up until the start of the 1941 NCAA season, the substitution rules were extremely limited by modern standards. Any player who left any given game was not eligible to return to action until the start of the next quarter while any player leaving the field during the fourth quarter was finished for the duration of that particular game. Therefore, highly specialized players did not simply come off the bench for the sole purpose of kicking extra points and field goals, as is the case with today’s contemporary football, of course.

Whereas punters during the pre-World War II era were always one of any given team’s four backfield players (because teams sought to retain the viable option to utilize the surprise “quick kick” tactic on any given play), any one of any given team’s ten offensive players other than the center were just as likely to serve as any given team’s placekicker … During Kenny Washington’s three varsity seasons for UCLA (1937-1939), the Bruins were the beneficiaries of successful extra point / field goal attempts from three fullbacks (Billy Bob Williams, Walt Schell, Bill Overlin), three guards (John Frawley, Jack Sommers, Dick Kyzivat) in addition to one right halfback (Jackie Robinson).

Nowadays, ‘conventional’ (one-point) extra point attempts are considered to be about as predictable as it gets in either collegiate or professional football. During the 2010 NCAA campaign, all Division I-A teams booted a combined 4,975 of 5,163 pigskins between the uprights for a nationwide extra point percentage (96.36%) that would have absolutely astonished the various newspaper reporters who seriously followed the collegiate game seven or eight decades earlier. While it is true that some individual players, like 1938 Heisman Trophy winner Davey O’Brien of Texas Christian University, to cite just one example, were highly reliable placekickers, the simple fact is that, by and large, most “big time” schools (in particular, those located closest to the Pacific Ocean) would have been happy to regularly convert at least seventy percent of its extra point attempts back in Kenny Washington’s day :

1938 West Coast Placekicking
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Santa Clara Broncos ……………. 11/14 XPS ……. 78.57% …….. 0 FG
Stanford Indians ………………….. 7/9 XPS ……… 77.78% …….. 0 FG
Oregon Ducks ………………………. 6/9 XPs ………. 66.67% …….. 3 FG
California Golden Bears ………. 21/33 XPs …….. 63.64% ……. 0 FG
USC Trojans ……………………….. 16/26 XPS ……. 61.54% …….. 0 FG
UCLA BRUINS ……………………. 14/26 XPs ……. 53.85% …….. 0 FG
Oregon State Beavers ……………. 6/11 XPs …….. 53.55% …….. 0 FG
Washington Huskies ……………… 5/10 XPs …….. 50.00% ……. 1 FG
Washington State Cougars ……… 1/6 XPs ………. 16.67% …….. 1 FG
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Totals ………………………………….. 87/144 XPs ….. 60.42% …… 5 FG

(Note — the UCLA Bruins actually registered 15 extra points during the 1938 NCAA season but only fourteen were achieved by actually kicking the football, itself, through the uprights. UCLA’s final point scored against the University of Iowa was only recorded after Bruins left halfback Izzy Cantor, the senior who was serving as the holder on the play, scooped up the pigskin and ran over the goal line immediately after junior right halfback Dale Gilmore’s extra point kick had been blocked by the visiting Hawkeyes. The two-point conversion rule was not adopted by NCAA college football authorities until 1958 and, thus, Cantor was only credited with one point for his remarkable effort at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum two decades prior.)

1939 West Coast Placekicking
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Stanford Indians …………………….. 7/7 XPS ……. 100.00% …….. 1 FG
Santa Clara Broncos ………………. 12/17 XPs ……. 70.59% …….. 1 FG
Washington State Cougars ………. 7/10 XPs ……. 70.00% ……. 0 FG
USC Trojans …………………………. 17/27 XPs ……. 62.96% …….. 0 FG
Oregon State Beavers …………….. 14/24 XPs …… 58.33% …….. 0 FG
Washington Huskies ………………… 6/11 XPs ……. 54.55% …….. 1 FG
Oregon Ducks ………………………….. 8/15 XPs ……. 53.33% …….. 1 FG
UCLA BRUINS ………………………. 10/19 XPs ……. 52.63% …….. 1 FG
California Golden Bears ……………. 5/13 XPS ……. 38.46% …….. 1 FG
———————————————————————————————————
Totals ……………………………………. 86/143 XPs ….. 60.14% …….. 6 FG

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ucla-39-oregon-programFrom the moment that “gridiron football” was first played in the United States of America, all placekickers used what is still commonly known as the “straight-on” style (as depicted on the front cover of the Oregon vs UCLA game program from 1939) for years and years. The first wave of players using the so-called “soccer-style” method (which is characterized by a diagonal approach and “side-winder” swinging motion that controls the direction the football will fly much, much better) did not arrive on the collegiate scene until the early 1960s. During the time period that Kenny Washington was starring for the UCLA Bruins, one should bear in mind that there were no such things as the square-shaped “kicking shoe” or even the flat “kicking tee” for field goals (which was outlawed at the start of the 1989 NCAA season), either, and these two factors certainly also affected the accuracy & range of pre-World War II placekickers as a whole, as well.

There is no doubt that a general lack of accuracy & range were two influential reasons why the overwhelming majority of Single Wing era football teams were very, very reluctant to try a field goal even from the shortest of distances. It must also be remembered that the left and right hashmarks on the collegiate football field were actually much farther apart from one another back when Kenny Washington played for UCLA as directly compared to where the two hashmarks are located currently. So, in other words, the closer any given team got to the opponents’ end zone, the more narrow of a target for the placekicker to hit would automatically be created should that team find itself in a situation where it wants to attempt a field goal right after the football has been spotted on either of one of the two hashmarks.

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Filed under Field Goal Kickers, UCLA Football