Blake Grupe is a confident guy.
It’s not often you see the graduate transfer without a smile and that includes Friday when Grupe scored a 42-yard field goal with Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman basically standing on top of him as he struck. .
The kick was good with plenty of room to spare and Grupe teammates swarmed it.
“These are times you sign up as a kicker to be a part of,” Grupe said. You don’t have the ability to execute unless the other guys are doing their job. You keep working and go out there and do your job.
If Notre Dame took on Ohio State today, Grupe would be the starting kicker after a productive offseason and preseason camp.
“Blake Grupe, as Coach Freeman alluded to yesterday, is the starting kicker right now,” Notre Dame special teams coordinator Brian Mason said Friday. “If we were to play today, Blake Grupe would be the starting kicker and handle all field goal duties in all situations.”
As a kicker, moments can be high, but they can also be low. Grupe is entering sixth year at university, so he’s been through it all.
“I feel like I’ve seen both sides of it,” Grupe explained. “It’s a chip on my shoulder. I’ve doubted my size all my life. I use it, you gotta keep riding and stay confident. You go out and use that chip. You go out there and you Trust yourself to know that you’re going to do your job every time, no matter the circumstances.”
Some may have been surprised by Freeman stating that Grupe has a reach of 53 yards, whether that’s because Notre Dame has lacked range in the past or because 5-foot-7 and 158 pounds doesn’t look like Jon Doerer.
Mason was giving no clue Friday about his assessment of Grupe or even his kicker’s work with Matt Balis over the past eight months when asked if Grupe had always had distance or if he had developed more worn since arriving in South Bend.
“Yeah, I understand he’s small, so he doesn’t have distance, does he,” Mason said. “So Ok. Good?”
Still, it likely has to do with Grupe’s confidence but routine, which Mason pointed out with all of his specialists.
“Coach Mason is a ploy,” Grupe said. “He’s got all kinds of tricks. He’s always on me to establish and master your routine. He wants us to write it down. When you’re so locked into your routine, none of the other things matter.”
Part of Grupe’s routine is visualizing every kick. There’s a big part of the picture as Grupe makes sure to learn their surroundings, while also focusing on the details in the moments before the kick.
“It’s another tool in your toolbox,” Grupe said of the visualization. “I’ve been using it since I was in second grade. through the repetitions in your head. Before practice today, as I knew I was preparing for it, just follow your routine and see the ball go by. You don’t have to do anything too complicated, but when you see it, it’s in your head and you’ve seen it. It’s much easier to traverse and run.
Grupe also performed off the field when he arrived at Notre Dame with an Arkansas State master’s degree in hand.
“Actually, I already have my master’s degree,” Grupe said. “I got my MBA there in 4.5 years. I got here and after going through the season last year and finishing that masters program, I decided not to necessarily pursue a degree. here in January it was a bit difficult to get started in a program.I am in a masters program but just taking classes.