The newest and most unexpected addition to the USC Trojans, blue shirt kicker Matthew Boermeester, is already making things interesting in fall camp with impressive showings through the first three practices that have put incumbent starter Andre Heidari on notice.
“We’re letting these guys compete,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said Wednesday after practice. “To Matt’s credit, he’s kicked the ball pretty consistent for three straight days. I think he’s only missed two kicks, so he is making it a little bit uncomfortable for Andre which is exactly what we want.”
Sarkisian has already revealed a preference for trial by fire with uptempo practices pushing his team to learn on the go. When it comes to special teams, the head coach seems to take a similar path, hoping that the extra pressure provided by Boermeester, who joins USC from Saddleback Community College, will yield dividends.
“There’s going to be a point this season when where going to have to kick a game winning field goal or a game-tying field goal and it’s going to be uncomfortable,” Sarkisian said.
Luckily for Heidari, he has shown the ability to hit a kick under the most stressful of circumstances, burying Stanford with a field goal in the waning seconds of USC’s November upset. Still, the senior kicker has failed to inspire much confidence since his impressive freshman season. As a junior last year he hit just 68% of his attempts, which was a slight improvement over his 62% average in 2012.
Sarkisian believes that Heidari’s troubles are rooted in the mind: “For Andre it’s really clear to see, three days into training camp, we’ve got to find a way to get him more consistent mentally so that he can be consistent physically.”
Heidari will need to get his mind right as soon as possible if Boermeester continues his strong opening act. Wednesday he hit four of his five attempts and showed off impressive range by successfully converting a 52-yard kick during Tuesday’s practice.