Matt Nuzie has hit on 13 of his 16 field goal attempts in 2004, ranking him 11th in the nation with 1.63 makes per game. His 81.2-percent success rate by far leads the BIG EAST Conference and is tied for fifth in the nation amongst players with at least 15 field goal attempts. Nuzie was named the BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Week following UConn’s 29-17 win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 30. In that game, he tied his career high with three field goals while hitting on both of his extra point attempts. The second of his field goals was comfortably good from 49 yards, topping his previous career-long of 38 by 11 yards. The kick came as time expired in the first half and gave UConn a 13-10 lead at the break and the momentum it needed to eventually win the game.
Nuzie has made each of his last nine attempts, tying the school record set in 1994 by David DeArmas. Nuzie’s 13 field goals this year are the fourth best seasonal total in UConn history, with DeArmas’ school record total of 17, set in 1995, within reach. Just a sophomore, Nuzie is fourth in UConn history with 72 career successful extra points and eighth in UConn history with 24 career field goals made. The school records in those categories, 99 and 36 respectively, could also be within his reach soon.
The other semifinalists include Jeff Babcock (Colorado State), Travis Bell (Georgia Tech), Brian Bostick (Alabama), Mason Crosby (Colorado), Stephen Gostowski (Memphis), Tyler Jones (Boise State), Darren McCaleb (Southern Miss), Justin Medlock (UCLA), Mike Nugent (Ohio State), Brandon Pace (Virginia Tech), Matt Payne (BYU), Todd Pegram (Texas A&M), Dave Rayner (Michigan State), Joe Rheem (Kansas State), Reagan Schnieder (UTEP), Alexis Serna (Oregon State), Colby Smith (Middle Tennessee), Shaun Suisham (Bowling Green) and Andrew Wellock (Eastern Michigan).
The three finalists for the Lou Groza Award will be announced on Monday November 22nd. Finalists will be honored at the 13th Annual Lou Groza Award Banquet on Tuesday December 7th at the West Palm Beach Marriott in West Palm Beach, Fla. The voters for the Lou Groza Award are comprised of all Division I head coaches, sports writers and sportscasters from across the country, conference officials, various NFL kickers and all previous Lou Groza Award finalists.
The award, now in its 13th year, is named for NFL Hall-of-Fame kicker Lou Groza, who played 21 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Groza won four NFL championships with Cleveland and was named NFL Player of the Year in 1954. Nicknamed "The Toe," Groza was one of the first people to truly make kicking an art form, and he helped usher in to football the idea that a player could be used exclusively for kicking.
Nuzie is actually the second Husky ever to be recognized by the organization. True freshman Tony Ciaravino (Boca Raton, Fla.) received the 2003 high school version of the Lou Groza Award, annually given to the top scholastic place kicker in Palm Beach County.