Oct. 20, 2004
Junior placekicker Michael Sgroi
is featured in the ninth installment of a weekly column of player reports that lets Cardinal Commitment
readers in on the thoughts of Stanford football players.
Sgroi and his Stanford teammates are off to a strong start in 2004 with a 4-2 overall record and a 2-1 Pac-10 mark. After two consecutive road games, the Cardinal returns to Stanford Stadium for homecoming versus Pac-10 rival Oregon (3-3, 2-1 Pac-10) this Saturday, October 23, at 2:00 pm, PDT. The key conference contest will pit two of the five Pac-10 teams currently tied for second-place with 2-1 conference marks (one game behind league leader, unbeaten and top-ranked USC). Stanford leads the all-time series over Oregon, 43-23. The teams have not played at Stanford Stadium since 1997 when the Cardinal came up with a 58-49 victory in one of the wildest games ever played on The Farm. The Cardinal and the Ducks have clashed four times in Eugene since that meeting with Oregon winning three of the contests. Stanford's lone victory in those four games was a 49-42 thriller in 2001 that snapped Oregon's 23-game home win streak. Oregon has dominated the Cardinal in each of the last two meetings, winning 41-14 in 2002 and shutting out Stanford by a score of 35-0 last season.
This Saturday's game will be televised only on a tape-delayed basis in Oregon on the Oregon Sports Network. Live audio broadcasts of the contest can be heard on Stanford flagship station KNEW 910-AM, KZSU 90.1 FM and gostanford.com, as well as on the Stanford Football Radio Network (KFIA ... 710 AM, Sacramento ... KPSI 920 AM, Palm Springs ... KUIK 1360 AM, Portland).
CC: After a tough win over Washington State on the road last Saturday, what's the attitude of the team?
MS: We have a very positive attitude right now. We reached a critical point last weekend. We could have been a 3-3 team as opposed to 4-2 and two games away from being bowl eligible. It's a very positive vibe on the team, and we know that we have a good squad that is making a name for itself.
CC: How important is it to register a win over Oregon at home this Saturday?
MS: I think it's a very important game, but every Pac-10 game is important. We're not going to put a ceiling on our limits as a team, and the best that we can do is win all of our remaining games. That is our expectation. This game is like any other game, and we want to win.
CC: As a two year starter at the placekicker position, do you bring a veteran presence to the squad on special teams?
MS: It's difficult to show my leadership ability as a kicker, but I feel like I'm able to lead by my actions. By doing my job, it helps other people follow suit. I might not lead by my words, but as long as I'm doing my job it helps everyone else on the team.
CC: How often do you work with punter Jay Ottovegio?
MS: Jay's a great guy and we feel that we're responsible for how each other performs. Jay has shown a lot of maturity out there as a redshirt freshman and is a very good friend of mine. We have a good friendship on and off the field.
CC: You've been extremely accurate as of late, making your last nine field goal attempts. Is there something that you're doing differently to help with your accuracy?
MS: I'm just having more fun. The misses I had earlier in the season weren't bad misses. They weren't shanks or wide left or right. One of them was directly above the upright and two were just outside the post. Mentally, I told myself that they were near misses and that's the way I wanted to interpret them. I concentrated on not aiming the ball through the uprights, and just kicking it and having fun.
CC: Your brother played collegiate football at Michigan. What kind of influence has he had on your career?
MS: As a long snapper, he didn't get a lot of reps. But seeing him go out there and doing his job instilled a certain type of attitude in me. One thing that I've definitely learned from him is that it's all about going out there and doing your job for your team. That's all you can do because you're not in a position where you get a lot of reps. Some players may be able to make a mistake every several plays, but as a kicker I can't have that. What I've learned from him is how to keep myself in tune with what I have to do instead of worrying about everything else around me.
CC: How do you prepare for a field goal attempt during a game?
MS: During the game, I'm never right on the sideline. I'm always in the back, staying loose. If we're in field goal range and it's a third down, I'll make my way over to the sideline. I might not be called on to kick, but I want to be focused and ready. If they call my name, I go out there and see it as a chance to do my job. You have to have the confidence in your mechanics and in your physical ability to make the kick.
CC: In the Stanford Football media guide, you list Casey Carroll as the teammate that you admire most. What about Casey is it that you admire?
MS: Casey is one of my best friends on the team, and I lived with him during my sophomore year. When I came here, I was one of the most intense people that you'd ever meet. Casey has a lot fun playing and his overall attitude is something that rubbed off on me. I learned to simply enjoy playing and the opportunities that present themselves.
CC: Can you speak a little about the progression of redshirt freshman placekicker Derek Belch?
MS: Derek is an excellent kicker, and we're lucky to have him. He makes me a better kicker in the same way that I make him a better kicker. He pushes me as much as I push him. I know that there's a great kicker right behind me, so he's really helped me along. He's going to be a great kicker and do very well for himself.
CC: What kind of team goals have you set for the remainder of the season?
MS: Our goal is to win the rest of our games. I don't like putting a ceiling on our goals, so our goal is just to go as far as we possibly can.