Carpenter continues special teams consistency

Minnesota’s new kicker has made 16 of his 18 field goal attempts

Gophers kicker Emmit Carpenter kicks the ball on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

Carter Jones

Gophers kicker Emmit Carpenter kicks the ball on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

Jack White

Emmit Carpenter kicked a personal high Saturday.

Carpenter made a career-best 53-yard field goal in Minnesota’s last game against Purdue. Carpenter made two field goals over 50 yards on the day.

“[Carpenter’s] worked very hard at it, but over [50 yards] too, surprised me,” said head coach Tracy Claeys. “That was stretching his limit, but, no, how well he’s done hasn’t surprised me.”

Carpenter also had a 28-yard field goal against the Boilermakers to go with the two makes of over 50 yards.

The three field goals helped Carpenter earn Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the second time this year.

Carpenter said a change in his field goal range happened before the game.

“When we were warming up, I hit a few field goals from 55 yards,” Carpenter said. “Talking to our special teams coach Adam Hippe, we kind of compromised at 52 for the line. So I was just really excited that coach Claeys had the confidence to throw me out there for two of those big kicks.”

Carpenter is 16-18 on field goal attempts this season. He has made six consecutive field goals heading into the game against Nebraska.

Carpenter said he knew he would be a successful Big Ten kicker in the first game of the season.

“Right after the Oregon State game, I was talking to my parents about the game,” Carpenter said. “They said, ‘What did it feel like out there?’ And the best way I could describe it to them was that after the first time I stepped on the field for a PAT, I just became addicted to the feeling of being out there.”

Green Bay, Wisconsin is the hometown of both Carpenter and former Minnesota punter Peter Mortell.

Carpenter said he considered Minnesota because he was close with Mortell as a kid. The two were next-door neighbors.

“I just grew up playing sports with him in the neighborhood and spent a lot of time with him and started really following Minnesota football once [Mortell] came here,” Carpenter said. “I watched all the games and took a really big interest in the program.”

The two stay in contact throughout the year. Mortell said he doesn’t need to help Carpenter on the physical side of kicking when they talk.

“I do like talking to him, kind of about the mental aspect,” Mortell said. “Kind of staying ready and focused during the game and preparation. We talk about a lot of things, not just football. We talk about just what it means to be a student athlete at the University of Minnesota and just kind of things that help me out, that seems to be helping him.”

Carpenter’s season has earned him recognition from around the country. The redshirt sophomore is one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza award. The award is for best place kicker in college football.

Punter Ryan Santoso was the starting place kicker last year and was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza award in 2015. Santoso switched to punter this season and Carpenter became the starting kicker.

Mortell said there was never a doubt in his mind that Santoso and Carpenter would do well after he graduated.

“The special teams unit as a whole over there is in such good hands,” Mortell said. “It’s gratifying and I’m happy that they’re having the success that they are. I think they’re helping that team win a lot of games.”