OXFORD, Miss. — Joshua Shene sweeps his right leg and accelerates through the football, fighting the urge to look toward the uprights.
This is the cruel conflict that emerges every time he attempts a field goal or an extra point. Shene wants to watch the ball take flight so he can determine whether he has made clean contact, but jerking his head up compromises his accuracy. So he keeps his head down.
Kicking can be a thankless job — even when things go right, the rest of the stadium knows before Shene does — but he has learned to cope with the highs and lows of his job as he prepares for his third season as Ole Miss’ placekicker.
If, as a freshman, Shene existed in a sort of blissful bubble, immune to pressure and expectations, he found himself dealing with harder realities as a sophomore. Injury. Inconsistency. Injustice, at least according to him.
“This coaching staff treats us a lot better,” Shene said, “that’s for sure.”
After converting 14-of-17 field goals as a freshman, Shene connected on just 11-of-17 last season, far short of his own standards. And his struggles with a midseason groin injury were aggravated by apparent differences with the old coaching staff.