UF gets leg up with Sturgis


Florida's Caleb Sturgis kicks a field goal during the first half against the University of Alabama Birmingham on Saturday.

Doug Finger/Staff Photographer
Published: Monday, September 12, 2011 at 8:17 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 12, 2011 at 8:17 a.m.

With his back fully healthy, Florida junior place-kicker Caleb Sturgis said he feels like he's kicking the ball as well as he has in two years.

Sturgis finished with a career-high 13 points, booting three field goals and four extra points in Saturday night's 39-0 win over UAB.

But one of Sturgis' biggest contributions came in kick coverage. With Florida ahead 32-0, Sturgis made a potential touchdown-saving tackle against UAB return man D.J. Vinson. Had Sturgis not made the tackle, Vinson would have had open field ahead of him.




Sturgis said he felt like he needed to make the tackle, otherwise he would have faced the wrath of Florida coach Will Muschamp for his poor kickoff placement.

"I don't think too many people noticed," Sturgis said. "My head hurt a little bit after that so I went off to the side."

But Florida fans are noticing Sturgis' accuracy this season. Sturgis improved to 5-for-5 on the season after connecting on field goals of 24, 35 and 28 yards. The 28-yarder with 4:10 left in the first half bounced off the left upright, but made its way through for three points.

"I'm just hitting the ball pretty good right now," Sturgis said. "It's as good as I've felt since 2009. Obviously, that one off the crossbar you want to clean up that a little bit."

Sturgis missed the final 10 games of the 2010 season after suffering a disc injury in his back while lifting weights. Sturgis said he still lifts weights, but has been monitored closely by strength coach Mickey Marotti.

"Coach Mick, he has a plan for me," Sturgis said. "I'm not lifting as much."

But Sturgis has displayed some increased leg strength this season, recording three touchbacks so far this season. He only had four in three games in 2010.

"I've been working on that a lot during the summer," Sturgis said. "Your goal is to boom all of them into the end zone. There are a few balls that I still feel like I need to place a little better so I don't put the coverage team in a bind."

With Sturgis converting his kicks, it allowed Florida to put some points on the board while muddling through some red zone execution struggles.

"When we get to the 35, we think 52 (yards) and in is his range," Muschamp said. "He hit a 56-yarder for us during the spring game. He gives you an awful lot of confidence with the accuracy of his leg."

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