Yelk off to good start in 2001

Zac Reicks

It has been a problem for ISU football in the past. Time and time again the kicking game has deserted the Cyclones and caused problems for a program struggling to gain respect.

Building on Carl Gomez’s success from last year, redshirt freshman Tony Yelk made sure there wouldn’t be any question marks this season with a stellar performance in Iowa State’s 45-0 win against Northern Iowa on Sept. 8.

Yelk went 6-for-6 on extra points and banged home a career-long 47-yard field goal that tallied the first points of the year for the Cyclones.

Besides that, Yelk showed his versatility by handling the punting chores for the Cyclones against the Panthers.

He sealed his job as the number one punter as well by booting the ball six times for a 47-yard per-punt average.

“A lot of people feel that when you take on the place-kicking and punting duties, the fundamentals are really different, and it screws them up one way or the other,” Yelk said.

“I personally don’t find it to be a problem as long as you’re focused and practice your technique. Whether or not it is a field goal or punt doesn’t really matter.”

When Yelk first came to Iowa State last season, he thought he would only have to worry about guiding the ball through the uprights, not directional punting.

A former high school punter, the 6-foot, 200-pound Yelk realized that he would have to expand his repertoire to help absorb the loss of Gomez.

Ask him what he’s best at, and he will tell you the truth.

“I’ve always felt my strength is kicking, but with the situation that arose I worked on my punting more than ever,” Yelk said.

“I think I have come a long way, and I was happy with my performance [against UNI]. It wasn’t exceptional, but I will just try to keep getting better,” he said.

Due to the postponement of the Iowa-Iowa State game, Yelk will still have only one game under his belt when the Cyclones travel to Athens to face the Ohio University Bobcats.

It will also be Yelk’s first road game and the first time he will be kicking in a foreign stadium. Yelk knows the importance of the crowd and how much Cyclone fans helped him in Jack Trice Stadium.

“We had a real nice crowd supporting us which helped me out a lot,” Yelk said. “The crowd gets my adrenaline going and myself and the rest of the team really appreciate it when the place is full.”

At noon on Saturday the Cyclones will find out how good a team they are with many questions still left to be answered.

Finally, the kicking game should not have to be one of them.