It has been 25 years since Oregon had one player handle both kicking and punting duties.
Adam Stack hopes to end that streak as a sophomore.
The last time Oregon asked one player to be the full-time kicker and punter was during 1994’s run to the Rose Bowl, when Matt Belden handled both jobs. The only player in recent years to get significant opportunities at both positions in the same season was Alejandro Maldonado, who was UO’s punter in 2013 while making 3-of-5 field goals as he split kicking responsibilities with Matt Wogan.
Stack debuted at punter last season when he averaged 38.4 yards, but he’s also the only scholarship kicker on the roster.
“He’s got a chance to do both,” UO coach Mario Cristobal said. “You’ve got to let him prove us wrong, let him continue to do it.”
Stack rotated days between kicking and punting during spring practices. He feels confident kicking field goals up to 50 yards.
“It’s been good getting back into kicking after just punting last year,” he said. “Get back in the groove. I’ve been improving all spring, so it’s been good.”
The 6-foot-2 Stack, who was ranked as one of the top 20 prep kickers in 2017 by multiple recruiting sites, is the favorite to replace four-year starter Aidan Schneider, a former all-conference selection who made 51 of 60 field goals in his career. Walk-ons Zach Emerson and Alec Hallman are the only other kickers on the roster heading into fall.
“Learning from Aidan, he was one of the best kickers to come to Oregon,” Stack said. “It was great to have a year with him and bounce ideas off him. I knew I had big shoes to fill, so it was great to learn from him and see how he carried himself every day.”
For the second year in a row, Stack will compete for the punting job with junior walk-on Blake Maimone, who attempted one punt last season.
“Blake is doing a great job knocking the ball back and knocking it far and getting some great hang time,” Cristobal said. “It’s going to be a pretty good competition.”
Last year, Oregon special teams coordinator Raymond Woodie also coached outside linebackers and spent much of his practice time working with the defense. Woodie left for Florida State with coach Willie Taggart and was replaced by Bobby Williams, who is only coaching special teams after running those units at Alabama for eight seasons.
Williams’ arrival has put a greater emphasis on special teams for the Ducks.
“We’re spending an extraordinary amount of time on special teams, and it’s paying off,” Cristobal said. “We’re focused on shoring up the protection, making sure our edges are wide enough and stout enough, and at the same time, bulking up who we put in the middle.”
Stack probably also will handle kickoffs this season. The NCAA made a rule change that allows returners to call for a fair catch inside the 25-yard line for a touchback.
“I’m working to get better on distance and placement, those type of things,” he said.
Stack ranked 10th in the conference in punting average last season. He had a season-best 51-yard punt in the Las Vegas Bowl loss to Boise State, but he had three others that traveled 50 yards.
“I thought I did all right, but there’s definitely room for improvement,” he said “There were ups and downs and I learned from the good punts and the bad ones. I thought it was a pretty solid year overall.”
Stack will try to ease any concerns that Oregon doesn’t have a player who has attempted a field goal in a college game.
“I’ll be more comfortable after game one and seeing how that goes,” Cristobal said. “Up to this point, the process and the operation has been really good. He’s one you can trust, and his accuracy during practice has been great.”