Everyone, even people who never had enough talent to play football, feels free to criticize kickers whenever they want. Everyone knows the jokes that they aren't real players or that they are wimps, but the fact is, when a kicker comes on the field, most of the time, there are points on the line.
With a field goal made percentage of 66.7 (14/21), Devon Bell made good on most of his attempts. At the beginning of the year, one had to wonder if he was going to make it. The season started with a 42-yard miss against Jackson State and misses from 36 and 43 yards against Auburn before Bell made his first field goal on the road against Troy. After that point, Bell picked up consistency, connecting on his next seven and eight of ten.
One concern on the kicking front is that Bell did have two field goal attempts blocked. Blocked field goals are lost opportunities for points and momentum boosts for opponents. One only has to remember back to the Alabama game to see the deflation on one side and joy on the other after the Bulldogs had their opening drive end with a blocked field goal.
After the points are scored, look for Bell to handle kickoff duties as well. As a high school senior, Bell put nearly every kickoff into the end zone for a touchback. Last year, Bell picked up 13 touchbacks on 64 kickoffs, averaging a little over 60 yards per kickoff. The Bulldogs would love to see the number of touchbacks increase in 2013.
Against a tough schedule, Bell figures to play an important role in picking up crucial points after tough drives. Mississippi State will need Bell to make much more than he misses to have a big season in 2013.