Kyle Brindza Flourishes In NFL Role
Few players that enjoyed as prolific a four-year career as Kyle Brindza did at Notre Dame also experienced such devastating lows to close out his time with the Irish.
If the first weeks of his first professional season are any indication, he's over it.
Down the stretch in 2014, Brindza missed six of his final nine field goal attempts - including one that would have tied the game late in the fourth in a loss to Louisville and a miss in overtime in the loss to Northwestern - before redeeming himself by booting the game-winner through the uprights to clinch a bowl win against LSU.
"I've gone through a lot of adversity, a lot of obstacles," Brindza told reporters. "They did a great job on it, and I'm here today. I look at what I did, to be able to overcome everything to be able to make my dream come true."
Brindza - the all-time Notre Dame leader with 57 made field goals - impressed the NFL world with a stellar preseason at both kicker and punter in Detroit. The problem, however, was that the Lions already had starters cemented in those roles, so they traded him to Tampa Bay.
In Week 2 with the Buccaneers, Brindza made 4-of-5 field goal attempts, including a 55-yarder in the 26-19 win over the New Orleans Saints and seems to be back to the clutch ways that represented most of his collegiate career.
"One of the things that's always separated Kyle is the fact that his inner drive and I see kickers all the time that have as much talent as Kyle does and potential, but they don't see it fulfilled," said Brandon Kornblue, a kicking instructor that has mentored Brindza for several years. "Kyle's just one of those rare guys that takes his potential and actually has followed what I've recommended in terms of being consistent with keeping the technique the same and not trying to make things too complicated, but just trying to perfect what has worked."
Despite his struggles down the stretch, Brindza's overall body of work earned him an invitation to the NFL Combine. After the Music City Bowl win over LSU, Brindza returned to Kornblue to hit the reset button and get his mind cleared before his NFL Draft workouts.
What arguably caused the November struggles for Brindza - or was at least a contributing factor - was Notre Dame's dreadful holding, which first cost the Irish against Stanford in October before becoming an even larger issue in November. Head coach Brian Kelly eventually replaced holder Hunter Smith with Malik Zaire, but the damage had been done and not until the bowl game did Brindza recover.
"That's not the only issue and when he came down in January to do his Combine training for two months with me, there were some technical things we had to change that were off and were causing inconsistency with his field goals but with the holding, I've been saying it the past two years to anyone that will listen that the holding issue at Notre Dame has been very poor and it's been an issue," Kornblue said. "And it's still an issue if you look at [freshman kicker Justin] Yoon now.
"It's amazing to me that they can't get that fixed and find somebody to hold because it's not that difficult a thing to do but it's so important."
With kicking being such a mental task, it's no wonder that an offseason to clear his head allowed Brindza to return to his previous record-setting ways.