Vladimir Rivas began the season as FAU’s starting placekicker, but an undisclosed injury forced Rivas from Saturday’s victory over Air Force following a missed extra point attempt.
Laszewski handled the ensuing kickoff and another later in the game, and if Rivas can’t kick on Saturday coach Lane Kiffin said Laszewski’s foot will provide the boom on FAU’s kickoffs, field goals and extra points.
“If he calls my name I’m going to be ready for it,” Laszewski said.
Laszewski made a 42-yard field goal kicking for ASA College-Miami last season and says he has the leg strength to connect from 60 yards.
His kickoffs against Air Force didn’t show that kind of leg strength.
“It was my first time out there getting the jitters out,” Laszewski said. “I’m comfortable now. I’m excited.”
Laszewski began his college career at Louisville as a kicker. His interest in punting only developed recently.
“When I came here I mostly I wanted to kick, but I saw there was an opening in punting and I started growing a liking to it so I started punting more,” said Laszewski, also the Owls’ backup punter.
True freshman Sebastian Riella handled the punting duties in the Owls’ first two games and will do so against Bethune-Cookman – though the unit has hardly functioned smoothly.
Riella is averaging only 36 yards per punt and two of his punts have already been blocked.
In the season-opener against Oklahoma Riella took too long getting the punt off, never even getting his foot to the ball before an Oklahoma defender smothered the ball.
The block by Air Force wasn’t so much Riella’s fault as it was those around him. Garrett Kauppila lined up over long snapper John Clancy’s left shoulder and, at the snap, raced directly toward Riella. FAU employs a three-man protection wall in front of the punter to pick up rushers who come free. On this play Will Tuihalamaka was the middle man, flanked by Nick Weber on the left and Kain Daub on the right.
As Kauppila approached Riella, all three protectors moved to the right. No one ever touched Kaupilla, who easily blocked the punt. Lakota Wills scooped up the ball and, five yards later, Air Force cut FAU lead to a single possession with less than a minute remaining.
The Falcons recovered the ensuing onside kick, giving further life to a comeback hope that appeared dead minutes earlier.
“We’ve changed some personnel,” Kiffin said on Wednesday. “Hopefully that helps – competition, guys really straining to finish like they are supposed to on offense and defense. We haven’t seen that across the board on special teams.”