It’s not uncommon for a college football player who has an off day to refuse media interviews after the game.
But that wasn’t the case for Virginia Tech senior kicker Cody Journell, who missed two field goals and an extra point during last Saturday’s 15-10 win over East Carolina.
“Honestly, it’s probably the worst game I’ve ever played my whole career,” Journell said afterward. “I apologized to the team for it, they were all behind me, but I told them I would get on it this week and make sure it never happened again.”
Coming into the game, the Giles, Va. native had hit 36 of his 44 career field goal attempts and 84 of his 87 extra point attempts, dating back to 2011. He had also never missed back-to-back attempts in his career until Saturday.
“I felt like I did everything I usually do, but it’s just one of those days I guess,” Journell said. “It’s definitely something mechanical. I just have to go back and look at it.”
Journell’s problems started after Logan Thomas hit D.J. Coles for a three-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter to give the Hokies a 13-10 lead. Journell’s extra point attempt sailed wide left.
One possession later, after a Brandon Facyson interception in ECU territory, Journell’s 38-yard field goal attempt missed wide right.
Then, after Tech’s defense forced a three-and-out, Thomas marched the team 43 yards before Journell missed yet again, this time from 40 yards out.
“I guess that’s what sets good kickers and bad kickers apart,” Journell said. “I wanted to go back out there and redeem myself and get my rhythm. It just wasn’t happening today.”
Journell missed what would’ve been a third field goal on the ensuing possession, but had it negated by a running into the kicker penalty.
“He hurt his lower back here early in the week, but I don’t think that was it,” said head coach Frank Beamer. “I think, maybe, the protection we need to clean up. They were getting in there a little too far and he got sidetracked there. That’s not like him. He’s way too good.”
Way too good isn’t far from accurate — not only has he made 78.3 percent of his career field goal tries, he’s also been mighty important for the Hokies in the past two seasons.
He hit game-winning field goals against Georgia Tech, Virginia and Rutgers in 2012, as well as a game-tying kick against Boston College that sent that contest into overtime.
Despite his struggles Saturday, Journell’s teammates are behind him going forward.
“I have no problem with Cody,” Thomas said. “Last year Cody won what, two, three games for us — three games that I know of.
“I talked to him, we’re good friends. He was like ‘It was just a miserable day.’ And I was like ‘Yeah, I’ll have a couple of those every now and then.’ I said ‘You’ll hear it, but just block it out and move onto the next one.”
Journell appreciated, but wasn’t surprised by, his teammates’ reaction.
“They’re not going to hold it against you,” he said. “We’re all teammates. We’re all brothers. They’d come up to me on the sideline in between and tell me it’s going to be okay. They had my back.
“After the game I just looked at them and said, ‘Hey guys, it’s not going to happen again. I know you guys pulled through this game, but you’re going to need me in another one so I’ll make sure I’ll be there for you.’”