Ramon Paredes, a junior kicker at Maryland who has missed four of seven field goal attempts this season, yesterday said he still feels the position is open despite the performance of freshman Dan Plocki, his replacement in Saturday's victory over Wake Forest.
Paredes also was disdainful of the ongoing practice competitions between him and Plocki, a walk-on. The competition takes the form of numerous field goal attempts under the scrutiny of the entire team.
"He beat me out last week, but maybe I will beat him out this week," said Paredes, who missed crucial kicks in losses to Penn State and Michigan. "I still have confidence in myself, but I don't like this competition.
"In my opinion, it is very difficult to go out and make every field goal. It would be better to be allowed to miss in practice than in a game. It all leaves me very tired."
Paredes said he has shown far more consistency than his competitor and also has dealt with much more pressure. Several teammates also said they felt Paredes' confidence was shaken by several bad snaps earlier this season.
Plocki, who kicked four field goals against Wake Forest in Maryland's 26-3 victory Saturday, confirmed the high level of pressure in practice. "There was less pressure against Wake Forest," he said. But Coach Bobby Ross said yesterday that both kickers must compete for the chance to start this week against Duke.
"Dan has a jump on the job, but I still consider it open," said Ross. "I think a little competition is a good thing. With very few exceptions almost every player on this team has to fight for his job, and I don't think it should be any different for Ramon and Dan."
Paredes, who still handles kickoffs, is considered to have a stronger leg, but Plocki is more accurate. According to Ross, another good game by Plocki would "make it very difficult" for Paredes to win back his job.
But Plocki refuses to accept that the permanent position is within his reach. Although the subject of considerable media attention this week, Plocki knows that many of his teammates didn't know who he was two weeks ago and that his name was not even included in the program at Wake Forest. Television announcers broadcasting the game insisted he was Paredes for the first half.
Plocki has an unusual philosophical approach to kicking. He says he imagines he will miss every field goal he attempts. By exorcising his mistakes mentally, Plocki reasons he can avoid repeating them physically.
"I try to foresee everything I can possibly do wrong," Plocki said. "I picture myself missing and everything feels wrong. I make all the mistakes I can. Then, when I actually kick, I know what to avoid."
But there is no way to avoid the reality every kicker must eventually face. Dan Henning, a sophomore quarterback who holds for field goal attempts, best summed it up.
"Placekicking is a do or don't thing," he said. "Either you do make the kick or you don't play. They both know that."