February 23, 2012
Talented Palardy eyes consistency
Michael Palardy knows the elephant in the room. Or complex. Or stadium.
Tennessee's talented but thus far inconsistent multi-skilled kicker has honed in on a singular goal this offseason: dependability.
"Absolutely, absolutely," Palardy said when asked if consistency is what he must master. "I mean, last year
there's no excuse for my ups and downs last year. It should have been all ups, and I want to be perfect all the time. That's what I'm striving for, especially in this offseason.
"It's not being able to kick 65-yard field goals; it's being able to stay inside 45, 46 yards and be 100-percent all the time. Because that's what people look for, consistency, and that's what I'm looking for and focused on as well."
Though a groin injury precluded the south-hoof Palardy from kicking in the Vols' win against MTSU in which UT notoriously plucked walk-on Derrick Brodus from his apartment couch moments before kickoff, Palardy did have some bright moments during the 2011 season. With Tennessee hanging close against eventual SEC Eastern Division champion Georgia, Palardy booted a pair of field goals that helped the Vols keep the score even at 6-all.
A couple of weeks later at Alabama, the two-year letterwinner who has appeared in 22 games since arriving in Knoxville after a prep All-America career at St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) drilled a 52-yard field goal, handled all punting duties and even converted a fourth down with a 5-yard pass to Anthony Anderson.
Palardy is adamant that a second consecutive offseason under the tutelage of strength and conditioning coach Ron McKeefery will be a huge boost to his preparations.
"Great. I feel stronger than I ever have. No injuries. No nothing. I feel great. I feel healthy," Palardy said of his offseason. "I'm ready to go. I'm ready to start putting on the pads and start rolling again. They've been great.
"It's awesome. I've built a great relationship with Coach Mac. He understands the importance of being a kicker and saving your legs but at the same time building up strength. And I think the fact that he recognizes that and he incorporates that into workouts, my workouts, other punters and snappers, it's been awesome. The fact that I've been dealing with him for two (offseasons) now and going through the same program --- it's not like we're trying to change anything --- getting stronger, getting faster. It's been great."
Maintaining his health and better fortifying his body for the rigors of the season could go a long way in helping Palardy supply that consistency, he said. While he improved his average on kickoffs by more than two yards from the 2010 season and notched six touchbacks, the affable Palardy reluctantly acknowledged earlier this week during the Boys and Girls Club's Punt, Pass and Kick competition that he did battle some injuries last season.
"Yeah, I did. I don't know, a long year, it's just kind of wear and tear on your body," said Palardy, 9-for-14 on field goal attempts in '11 and 14-for-21 in his career. "But I think going into last year, I wasn't strong as I am this year. I wasn't as physically prepared as I am this year. So I think that's going to play a lot bigger role on this coming year."
To that end, Palardy isn't focused on sculpting keg-sized quads during this offseason. Instead, it's a regimen designed to maximize all the kickers' and punters' athletic skills.
"I focus a lot on the running aspect of our workouts. Explosiveness is a big emphasis on my workouts. It's not so much heavy weight. It's building up those fast-twitch muscles in my legs," Palardy explained. "I can apply it to kickoffs, to field goals, to incorporate that explosiveness into my kicks.
That's basically what me and coach Mac and kind of all the kickers and punters have been focusing on, explosiveness. Not so much squatting over 400 pounds or whatever. That's not going to do anything for us."
Whatever the workout, Palardy admitted that being surrounded by roughly 100 Knoxville-area youths running scattershot across the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center field eased the fatigue from that morning's drills.
"You know, they really aren't that bad. You know that these kids are coming in here to enjoy themselves and you're doing it for a good cause," Palardy said. "No matter how tired you are, no matter how sore you are, seeing these kids just happy and running around and enjoying themselves is a greater feeling than not being sore or not being tired from any kind of workout."
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