Penn State Nittany Lions: Blair Walsh

Ficken improving, not dwelling on past

November, 14, 2012
Sam Ficken stared at his bedroom wall -- sometimes before brushing his teeth, other times after hours of practice -- and remembered.

The sophomore kicker had tacked a PSU-Virginia game program to that apartment wall so he couldn't forget. He didn't want to make the same mistakes. He didn't want history to repeat itself. And he didn't want his career to be defined by that 1-of-5 performance in a 17-16 loss.

[+] EnlargeSam Ficken
AP Photo/Andrew ShurtleffPlace-kicker Sam Ficken walks off the field dejected after missing a last-second field goal at Virginia.
Nothing motivated him more than that magazine. But now, nine weeks after that performance, Ficken said he awakes with thoughts of the future instead of regrets about the past.

"I actually ended up taking that down about a week ago," he said. "I'm trying to move on from that game, I'm trying to forget about it. So I'm trying not to dwell."

Ficken has gone from being a constant source of disparaging Tweets and student chatter -- a kicker whom the crowd would, somewhat mockingly, scream loudly for after a converted extra point -- into a player who's made his last six field goals. Fans no longer hold their collective breath when he steps on the field, and Ficken's confidence has been rising as steadily as his field goal percentage.

"He's a very, very laid-back guy that cares about his teammates," Bill O'Brien said. "It's nice to see him improve like he has."

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