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The Value Of Having A Good Holder

Posted Nov 21, 2013

Sam Koch likes getting the rare errant snap because it gives him something to do.


With Morgan Cox as the Ravens’ long snapper, life can get real boring for holder/punter Sam Koch.

But sometimes, on rare occasion, Koch gets to show off his skills.

That’s what happened Sunday in Chicago. Due to the perfect storm of a wet ball, poor footing and untimely wind gust, Cox unloaded a high fastball.

Koch pounced off one knee, snared the wet ball with his bare hands and got it down. He kept his balance just long enough to keep his pointer finger on the tip of the ball before toppling onto his back.

While not exactly straight, Justin Tucker’s kick went through the uprights. The whole thing wasn’t pretty, but it still counted for one point.

A holder hardly ever gets publicity. They do a pretty thankless job. But on Sunday, the Ravens and fans got a taste of the advantage of having a skilled and dedicated holder like Koch.

“The value is points, right?” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

“For Sam to get up off the ground and grab that ball that was moving … he had an errant fastball there and it was running away from him pretty quick. He grabbed it and then got it back down right on the spot. I think he had the laces right too.”

Koch attributed the successful kick to preparation. He and Special Teams Coach Jerry Rosburg practice fielding bad snaps every single practice. They work on holding high ones, low bouncing ones and outside ones.

It’s the other, less glorious, half of Koch’s job. And it’s one he actually likes.

“I know there are probably a lot of people that probably wouldn’t want to do that kind of job, just because of how much is on the line for every single hold. I enjoy it a lot,” Koch said.

“I always give Morgan a hard time if he throws me a snap like that. I’m like, ‘Man, you finally gave me something to do.’ For him, 98 out of 100 snaps are going to be perfect. It gets very monotonous. Sometimes you feel like a robot or a computer doing the same thing over and over.

“When something comes at you fast and high, it makes it well worth it. You get it down and you feel like you actually did something.”

It’s also impressive that Tucker still got the ball through the uprights. The process of a successful kick is finely orchestrated and replicated with the exact same pace over and over. A tiny malfunction can easily throw the whole thing off. Tucker had to slow his gait just a bit to wait for Koch to get the ball down.

Tucker has never missed an extra point during his kicking career. He’s a perfect 62-for-62 in the pros and was 71-for-71 in college.

“It’s not easy for the kicker either because he’s got a certain rhythm,” Harbaugh said. “To be able to slow down his approach and kick the ball straight was pretty amazing too. That was a great job by those guys.”

The only bummed participant of the three-man “Wolfpack” is Cox, who said he doesn’t feel he gets a free pass because of the bad conditions. He usually makes Koch’s job easy, but is thankful to have him when he doesn’t.

“You never want to use a good holder,” Cox said. “I prefer never to have to exercise that. But having him back there has made all the difference in the world in terms of my confidence. Since I’ve been here, it’s always been me and him holding and snapping. The continuity is a huge advantage.”

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