Among the seven or eight plays Maryland coach Randy Edsall showed his team Sunday, one was perhaps the easiest blocked kick A.J. Francis could have ever hoped for.
Virginia kicker Drew Jarrett lined a 31-yarder just over the offensive line. Francis, for his part, pushed and put his hand up.
Either way, the Cavaliers were denied three points in a game Maryland went on to win 27-20.
“I think I could have blocked that one myself,” Edsall said. “The kicker screwed that up from a [trajectory] standpoint but because A.J. went hard and got his hand up, he was able to to block the kick. If he just blocked and didn’t get his hand up, it wouldn’t have been blocked. Even though the kicker didn’t kick the ball [right], because A.J. did his thing he blocked the kick.”
Francis denied a field goal earlier in the season at Temple. He’s the first Terp to block two kicks in a season since Josh Wilson in 2005 and just the fifth Maryland player to do so since 2000. E.J. Henderson (2001), Curtis Williams (2003) and William Kershaw (2004) were the others.
Francis has three blocked kicks in his career; since 2000, only Williams (five), Kershaw (three) and Wilson (three) have as many.
“I think what’s important about A.J. in that situation in terms of field goal and PAT block is the fact he takes it serious,” Edsall said. “He doesn’t take the play off. He has a knack to get that big body skinny and slip it through the gap. Some guys have that knack. He’s got a knack to get skinny and get his hand up in the air.”
—- Patrick Stevens