The art of the block

It can change the momentum of any game and give a team an edge that sets it apart from the competition. The art of blocking kicks is something that every team in the country practices over and over, but for SHSU free safety DeJuan Davis, it just comes naturally.In last weeks 34-16 loss to Nicholls State, Davis tied Trey Woods for the Bearkat single season kick blocks record of five, which was set in 1993, with a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter. Davis has blocked three punts this season and two field goals. “I take pride in blocking kicks and I just go out and try to block them,” Davis said. “I didn’t know anything about the record until I saw it in the paper and it means a lot to me because I love blocking kicks.” Davis’ older brother Keith helped to motivate him to excel at special teams. Keith Davis was a standout defensive back on the Bearkat football team from 1998-2001. He also found his way into the kicker’s face a time or two. “My brother and I use to always just compete against each other when we lined up here at Sam.” Davis said. “It was always like ‘I’m going to get it before you do.'”Sam Houston’s special teams have been called the Block Party for years and the idea is that the special teams block the kick and party in the end zone. Davis has been a big contributor to the block party since he arrived at SHSU in 2000. Davis said the best way to block a kick was to get off the line of scrimmage as fast as possible. Anticipating the snap and staying low is the also a big factor in kick blocking A blocked kick can help motivate the whole team, especially the defense. The defense fights to try to keep the other team out of the end zone and when the opponent has to settle for a field goal and then it gets blocked, it is a moral victory.”It’s a tremendous momentum swing whenever you get a blocked punt or a field goal, and it is even bigger when you can block that kick and return it for points,” said Craig Naivar, SHSU defensive coordinator and special teams coach. “If you block a field goal in the red zone like the one last week and score points, it is a tremendous confidence booster for the defense.”Naivar said that the key to being good a kick blocking team is repetition, but some players like Davis just have a knack for it. The Bearkat special teams work on various drills that help the team prepare for the possibility of a kick blocking opportunity, such as trying to block live kicks from the coaches. “It’s all about work ethic and going through drill after drill,” Naivar said. “It’s a pay off for his [Davis] hard work and the hard work of the guys around him. Coach (Tom) Herman has done a tremendous job with our special teams.”Going after kicks does have a down side. If the defensive player knocks down the kicker and doesn’t touch the ball, it can result in a running into the kicker or roughing the kicker penalty that could turn into a first down. “Every kicker or punter has a block point where the ball comes off their foot and through repetition, we stress going through that block point at an angle as not to rough the kicker,” Naivar said. “But obviously, every once in a while you are going to have a roughing penalty.” Opposing teams have to keep an eye on Davis whenever he steps on the field in a kicking situation. This year is not a coming out party for Davis and his kick blocking ability. Last season he tied a school record for most blocks in a game with two against Mississippi Valley State University.”The guy that I usually line up over will point me out and so will a couple of other guys,” Davis said. “I just go through my routine in my mind thinking okay, just stay low and dip my shoulder and what ever happens, happens.”

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