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Hold school: Perfection's not as easy as it looks

By Matt Lindner

For RedEye

12:34 PM CDT, October 2, 2013

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Field goal attempts may look simple when you're watching a game, but Northwestern's specialists say there's much more than meets the eye.

That goes double if the weather isn't cooperating.

"If it's raining, it's terrible," holder Brandon Williams said. "Cold hands is probably the other worst thing. My redshirt freshman year, I dropped a hold in the bowl game because my hands were just cold."

Williams and his teammates broke down the formula for the perfect attempt.

Step 1: The snap

Long snapper Pat Hickey

"I try to aim [the snap] between [holder Brandon Williams'] knee and the middle of his body. You don't want to keep it outside because that can affect the kick, so [I'm] just trying to make sure everything's really smooth and fluid in the process and getting the ball where it needs to be so [kicker] Jeff Budzien won't have to hesitate."

Step 2: The hold

Holder Brandon Williams

"We've got to the point where I almost always catch it with the laces already out so I don't have to spin it very much, which is huge because obviously that's the hardest part. Then really, my left hand already marked the spot, my knee is in a position that my elbow just goes to my knee, my hand just goes to the spot and just make sure the laces are spun perfectly out and the ball is tilted perfect. Jeff has told me what he wants."

Step 3: The kick

Kicker Jeff Budzien

"Clearly when the laces are out, it's a little easier to see and make good contact. I'd prefer when it's already vertically up to tilt a little bit to Brandon, maybe like 5 or 10 degrees, and that just lets my foot angle and the ball make a 90-degree angle, which makes it go straighter. It's just a little thing that Brandon's picked up."

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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