Sam Ficken said kicking a field goal is like hitting a golf ball.
"If you're not aiming toward your target, it's pretty hard to hit your target," the sophomore kicker said.
Over the last the three games, Ficken has shown that he has the ability to sink field goals consistently. He's made his last six in his row, but it's been a long-- road to achieve that end.
Ficken's season hasn't exactly gone the way he planned. He missed four field goal attempts against Virginia in the second game of the season, and only sunk one of his last three after that. For a while, his inconsistency defined Penn State's third and fourth down strategies.
After the Virginia game, Ficken took an onslaught of Twitter rage from many disappointed Penn State fans.
Ficken didn't complain once.
"Twitter was a little rough, but I don't really care," he said. "People have no idea what my ability level is and they don't really know me. All I really need is my teammates."
It was secondary coach and special teams coordinator John Butler who first saw that the placement of Ficken's plant foot was negatively affecting his aim. Ficken said that Butler also noticed the speed of Ficken's kicks were a little slow.
A few NFL kickers reached out to Ficken following his struggles, including former Penn State player Robbie Gould.
The current Chicago Bears kicker would look at some of Ficken's film, and together they would work to correct Butler's initial diagnoses.
Ficken said the most important thing Gould told him was to "slow down and don't think so much," but he added that Gould has also been the most importance factor in improving Ficken's mechanics.
"When you're a kicker, it's kind of like a club I guess," Ficken said. "Whenever things don't go well, people don't know what you're going through exactly. It's a special position, so you're kind of on your own on that one. We try to stick together."
Ficken said he and punter Alex Butterworth -- who kicked in high school and took reps at kicker during warm-ups before the Ohio State game -- relate to each other's high and lows.
"When Alex does well, I always try to go to him and offer him a little extra support," Ficken said.
Ficken has been dealing with a right quad injury to his kicking leg for most of November. It hasn't affected his performance though, since he hasn't missed a field goal this month.
Ficken said he's recovered, and coach Bill O'Brien said he's noticed the results.
"When you're kicking better and better, you're gaining more and more confidence and he's a very, very laid back guy that cares about his teammates," O'Brien said. "He wants to do well. It's nice to see him improve like he has."