Minnesota Vikings’ kicker Blair Walsh has been one several rookies that has had a major impact on the Vikings’ improvement in 2012. Walsh has already kicked nine field goals of over 50 yards this year, a new NFL record. Minnesota Score sat down with Walsh to talk about his remarkable rookie season.
MS: Alright back in that Vikings locker room with the money ball kicker Blair Walsh who has just been remarkable this season a 56 yarder last week down in Houston tying franchise record . Nine kicks from over 50 yards this year that’s an NFL record. Did you see this coming Blair?
BW: I mean I never saw 9 times over 50 yards coming but the way our offense worked out we’ve done pretty well in the red zone and we stalled a little bit out towards the 40 yard line and we’ve gotten a lot of attempts.
MS: Talk about the cohesion of the unit, the snapper, the center, the whole deal because we’ve talked about this before in previous years that has been the key to the success here is that unit working together.
BW : It’s huge without them I’m not capable of doing my job and how well they do their job directly affects how well I do mine and they’ve been completely 100% on point all year and the 3 misses I’ve had have been my fault and that’s just how you got to take it.
MS: And with that guy down in St. Louis we saw him a couple weeks ago Greg Zuerlein, he’s Legatron. That’s a pretty cool moniker. We’ve got to get you a nickname Blair, any suggestions?
BW: No, I just want to be consistent that’s all I want. Call me consistent and we’ll take that one.
MS: Well, you have been consistent and the way this offense is it’s more of a running team. I think they know if they’re about the 40 yard line or in they can call on you and count on you.
BW: Well, I hope the coach has the confidence to call on me and he’s showed so far that he has. I just got to continue to prove him right and continue to do my job.
MS: How far have you kicked in practice?
BW: It’s been out there you guys can find that answer I’m not going to talk about it anymore.
MS: How far is Coach Frazier confident that he can put you out there?
BW: Yeah I know I think we were confident the other day from 56 and I think 60 and in we would have given it a shot in that game. I know we had one at the late part of the game where we punted but I think any head coach in the NFL would have punted there.
MS: Did you know at an early age that you wanted to be a kicker? When did this kind of click that ok Blair Walsh, I’m going to kick someday?
BW: No I wanted to be a basketball player then realized I was 5’10” and that’s never going to happen and then I was always a big soccer guy so I thought I would sort of take that to collegiate level and just sort of get into a regular job after that but I had no idea I was going to play in the NFL.
MS: What should young soccer players, field goal kickers in football do to get better and strengthen that leg?
BW: I think a big mistake kids make is they try too early to start kicking and possibly develop bad habits I would just say keep him in soccer and keep him in whatever sport he likes for as long as he wants and then introduce it to him around middle school beginning of high school and if he likes it get him trained and go from there.
MS: What sports did you play in high school?
BW: Soccer, basketball, and football.
MS: Did you play soccer and football at the same time?
BW: They’re different seasons in Florida where I grew up. Soccer is a winter sport.
MS: What was your furthest kick at Georgia?
BW: 56 yards same as the pros.
MS: Well, you may have some more pressure on the line on Sunday and you’ve delivered so far. I know for you, as you talk about being consistent but more importantly this team has a chance to get in to the playoffs and that’s what this is all about.
BW: You’re exactly right that’s huge for us right now we’re win and you’re in mentality right now and just got to go out there and execute and do what we’re capable of doing.
MS: Talk about what Coach Frazier the confidence he has in you and the kind of the relationship you have with him, when the discussions are, if he comes to you, do you go to him? Talk a little bit about that.
BW: He’ll sort of ask me pregame or during the game what my range is and so coach and I’ll tell him and then he knows they watch the warm-ups very closely and coach Frasier will look if he gets a chance they can just gauge from there on how well I’m hitting the ball and whether they’re confident they want to let me try it from certain ranges.
MS: I see on some of your kickoffs they’re more of the pop-ups and they’re fielded around the five yard line. Is that by design or are you trying to give the return team a chance to get down and make a play?
BW: I mean kick-offs aren’t exactly an exact science and our coverage team is so good right now that it’s not a big deal if it doesn’t go out of the end zone we’re keeping guys inside the 20 kicks a really high percentage of kicks and that’s awesome. Every time I’m trying to hit the ball deep and high at the same time but when I do mishit them a little that my coverage team bails me out every single time.
MS: I think it’s not since the middle of October where they’ve returned one past the 23 yard line.
BW: Yeah they’ve been taking a great amount of pride in it and they’re really good at it and they’re well coached and we’ll continue to do that.
MS: Special team’s one reason why this Viking team has a chance to get to the playoffs. Blair, congratulations on a great season and keep it up.
BW: Thank you I appreciate it guys.