Originally created 11/27/05

Kicker has missed crucial attempts in past



ATLANTA - Childhood friends are not among the things Georgia Tech kicker Travis Bell is thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Most of the friends Bell grew up with in the Atlanta suburb of Roswell attend Georgia or are Bulldog fans. And they've spent Thanksgiving week - make that Georgia-Georgia Tech week - hassling Bell.

"All my friends dog me," Bell said. "They call and ask, 'You gonna miss some more this week?' I'd like the chance to stick it to them if it comes down to a field goal."

A game-winning kick would also give Bell a chance at redemption. He's missed his past three field goal attempts, including a 44-yarder in the fourth quarter of Georgia Tech's loss to Virginia two weeks ago.

Bell, a preseason candidate for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top placekicker, went through a similar drought earlier this season.

He missed five consecutive field goal attempts - one was blocked - over a three-game span, including two kicks of less than 30 yards in Georgia Tech's three-point loss to North Carolina State.

He broke that spell with a 33-yarder against Clemson, then hit three from over 40 yards in a victory over Wake Forest the following week. He began his current streak a week later, hitting his first attempt at Virginia before missing the fourth-quarter kick.

Bell missed two kicks last week in the victory over Miami.

"He's got to hit one and get his confidence back," Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey said. "Right now, he's struggling in the confidence department. He needs to get it straight and find a way to get it through the uprights."

Bell spent some extra time trying to straighten out his kicking Wednesday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. He worked on long field goals - he's 4-for-10 from 40-plus yards this season - from the hash marks.

He said his psyche is just fine, despite the needling from his friends.

"My last seven field goals have been 40-plus yarders, so I'm not getting too down on myself," he said. "Don't get me wrong, I want to make them. But those misses are easier to take than missing the short ones."