Kicking it into high-gear: Doerer eyes successful year after clutch game-winner
Nate Moller | Friday, September 10, 2021
Graduate student Jonathan Doerer was the hero for Notre Dame last Sunday in Tallahassee by making a 41-yard field goal in overtime to give the Irish a thrilling 41-38 victory over Florida State. This year will be Doerer’s third season as the placekicker for the Irish, and he looks set to have a very successful year.
Doerer discussed Sunday’s game-winning kick and how he prepared himself for the moment.
“Once we got the ball back in overtime, I really played it through my head a couple of times. I felt comfortable with the way I was kicking the ball that day,” Doerer said. “So I was visualizing that, and I just kind of relaxed and just tried to get my mind ready to go out there.”
Doerer has a meticulous routine to prepare for kicking in overtime.
“When we’re on offense, I’m usually over by the net making sure I’m ready, depending on where we are on the field. On defense, there are a lot of ups and downs, but there’s not a lot of time because it’s so quick, so I’m kicking the whole time. I was kicking when [Florida State] was on [offense],” Doerer said. “Nothing changes in terms of how I think about my process. You don’t want to add any pressure that doesn’t need to be added. It’s just another kick for me.”
Doerer made a 48-yard field goal from the same hash earlier in the game, which gave him more confidence to make the game-winner.
“It was the same type of kick as the one I made earlier in the game. It was just seven yards closer on the same hash, so I picked the same spot as I did and just let it go,” Doerer said. “I think having one from there early on in the game certainly helped.”
Doerer did not let the crazy crowd of Doak-Campbell Stadium affect his kicking abilities on Sunday.
“We did a really good job of preparing for [the crowd]. We had the Tomahawk chop going all week long [at practice]. When I heard it, it was almost calming because I’d heard it all week long. We had done field goal periods at practice with it,” Doerer said. “It almost kind of helped me. It was calming in a way.”
Having fans back in the stadium was an asset to Doerer’s kicking throughout the game.
“I was so glad the fans were back. It was a great atmosphere. In circumstances like that, it almost kind of helps. There’s noise, but it’s white noise. It was a great experience for me,” Doerer said. “I’m not a young guy. I’ve played in college with fans before, so I’m more used to that than not having fans. I welcomed the fans in those types of atmospheres, and I have always enjoyed playing in those types of games.”
Doerer’s game-winning field goal was the first game-winning kick for the Irish since 2016 when Justin Yoon made one for the Irish to beat Miami 30-27.
Doerer discussed how important Sunday’s game-winner was to him.
“I don’t think it was more memorable because it was a game-winner, so to speak,” Doerer said. “I remember each kick, and some mean more to me than others. That one obviously meant a lot to me. I won’t get to reflect on it truly for a while, but it’s definitely one of my more memorable kicks.”
Doerer had never had the opportunity for a game-winning kick throughout his kicking career, but he did recall a similar kick from high school.
“I think I had a similar kick in high school. It was like 43 yards from the right hash, and I kicked a really good ball and it went over the right upright and they said it was no good. I was kind of thinking about that a little bit when I went out there. I was thinking I can finally exorcise those demons,” Doerer said.
The second that Doerer’s foot connected with the ball on Sunday, he knew that the kick was going to be good.
“There’s no wind down there, and I felt pretty comfortable with the way that I was hitting the ball that day. So once I saw it go up, I felt pretty good about where it was going to end up,” Doerer said. “I’ve kicked a lot of balls in my life, so I have a general idea of if I hit it well or if I don’t. There were no conditions and no wind to catch me by surprise, so I felt pretty good about it.”
After making the game-winner, Doerer began running across the field.
“I didn’t want to get dogpiled,” Doerer said. “I’m kind of a skinny guy. I don’t think that would have been too good for me. I wanted to bring everyone over to our fanbase. We had a lot of fans who traveled.”
Doerer discussed how meaningful it was for him to hear from friends and family members after the game, congratulating him on his kick.
“I heard from a lot of my buddies who I haven’t seen in a little while. That was good to hear from them,” Doerer said. “You hear from a lot of people that are close to you who have been a part of your journey that kind of reach out to you again in that situation. It’s really special.”
Despite not having a chance for a game-winning kick before, Doerer has proven to be a clutch option for the Irish in years past as well. In his junior season, Doerer made three field goals of over 40 yards to lead the Irish to victory against USC. Also, in last year’s victory over first-ranked Clemson, Doerer made four field goals to ensure an eventual Irish victory.
Doerer and the Irish have their eyes set on the home opener this Saturday against Toledo.
Doerer emphasized the importance of taking care of himself and resting up for Saturday, especially without an extra day of rest due to the Sunday game.
“We have to take care of ourselves. That’s the biggest thing this week. It’s the same type of week of practice. But without that extra recovery day, we have to spend more time off the field taking care of ourselves,” Doerer said.
Although it is likely that Doerer will not face a game-winning situation again this season, the Irish will definitely rely on their veteran kicker to make some kicks in high-pressure situations going forward. Doerer has proven in his career that no stage has been too big for him, and he will certainly be ready for any situation he faces.