Back in September, graduate punter Brad Robbins was asked about kicker and fellow graduate Jake Moody. Robbins tagged Moody with a moniker:
“He’s Mr. Consistent.”
Realistically, Moody’s consistency was already known. The reigning Lou Groza Award winner already had the hardware to say “he’s the best kicker,” and everything Moody did last year was the definition of consistency.
But the label isn’t just a signifier of Moody’s 92% field goal accuracy, it’s an amplification of who he is as a person, and what he means to the No. 4 Michigan football team.
On Saturday, in a 29-7 win over in-state rival Michigan State in which Moody went 5-for-5 on field goal attempts, he wore the nametag on his chest.
“He’s the offense’s best friend,” sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy said Saturday. “Just him being the best kicker in the country last year, (he’s) guaranteed (the) best kicker in the country this year. Moody’s just the guy — he’s a leader on our team, and he shows up every single opportunity he gets. And it’s just a complete blessing to have him on our side.”
Each time the Wolverines approached the brink of Moody’s range, he did the same thing: ball after ball into the training net. While the crowd affixed its eyes to the offense, Michigan’s eventual game-leading scorer was on the sidelines. Kick after kick after kick. Again, again and again.
And it paid off.
Five drives saw the Wolverines sputter out before reaching the end zone, an inefficiency that plagued them all night. But there was always Moody, quiet and consistent.
“I’m just going out there to do my job, plain and simple,” Moody said. “When they don’t put it in the endzone, I gotta put it through the uprights.”
That’s all it is to him: his job. Whether it was from 25 or 54 yards out, each time Moody took the field, the kick looked the same and went through the uprights the same.
That’s no coincidence.
“I just go through the same routine every time,” Moody said. “(I) just try and stay as consistent as I can overall. I treat every kick like it’s the exact same kick. I don’t want to be thinking ‘this one’s further, I gotta hit harder.’ It’s always the same kick every time.”
It’s a great philosophy, but it doesn’t always work that way. There’s wind, distance actually does matter, and there are 11 players trying to get into the backfield to prevent that kick from going up. It takes precision and flexibility at all levels of the process to execute a field goal.
Really, “Mr. Consistent” doesn’t mean doing the same thing, it means getting the same result. For that, Moody credits more than himself, more than his routine — he credits the system.
“Having such a great operation kind of allows me to stay relaxed and be confident in my abilities as well as theirs,” Moody said.
“A lot of credit, too, to the whole operation,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh added. “Greg Tarr the snapper, Brad Robbins the holder, just outstanding.”
It was all epitomized in Moody’s final kick, a 54-yarder toward the south endzone. From Tarr to Robbins, the ball moved through the kicking machine; with laces out, it was primed for the final cog to take its place. Moody’s leg swung through like a pre-programmed pendulum, striking the ball cleanly making it 22-7.
Originally, Moody wasn’t going to kick it. The wind was as strong and it was still a far kick, but just before the moment, the Wolverines moved the threshold to attempt the kick back allowing Moody and the kicking team their chance.
“We have a lot of trust in Jake Moody,” Harbaugh said. “For a second I thought, ‘It’s a 54-yarder. Should we go back to the well, one more time?’ Then I said to myself ‘It’s Jake Moody.’ ”
Michigan learned last year that Moody can be relied on. Now, if the offense can’t score on its own, the Wolverines know there’s just one thing left to do: Trust “Mr. Consistent.”