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Canes’ Whipple holds important job

August 17, 2010
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

CORAL GABLES (AP) - Spencer Whipple knows the outcome of any Miami game this season could be in his hands.

Which is true, even though Whipple - a backup quarterback and son of Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple - might not throw a single pass for the Hurricanes in 2010. Instead of throwing footballs, Whipple will be holding them, assigned to get snaps down for kicker Matt Bosher on field goal and point-after attempts.

It's an often-overlooked role, yet is especially important at Miami this season, considering Bosher had been with now-graduated holder Matt Perrelli since their days in high school together.

"You think that every hold is going to be important at the final outcome," Whipple said. "You just go back to each rep, make sure you set up and have the same approach to each rep. Whether it's an extra point or the game-winning field goal, everything should be the same."

Until now, Whipple has been a holder only once, as a high school junior.

He is a left-handed quarterback, but does just about everything else right-handed, so there's been no tough adjustment trying to get used to getting the ball down with either hand. He, long snapper Chris Ivory and Bosher have logged countless hours together since the spring to get their timing down, and Bosher - projected to be one of the best kickers in the Atlantic Coast Conference - has plenty of confidence in his new guy.

"Spencer's a great athlete," Bosher said. "He's done a great job learning the trade. He's done a really great job getting his speed down and getting his confidence down. It's just going to be a matter of timing with him, myself and Chris Ivory. That's all that's left, getting the final timing down. He's done a great job. He picked it up really quickly."

It's common for quarterbacks to double as holders, especially since most are blessed with great hands and able to get the laces turned the right way quickly after catching snaps. If Miami ever wants to try some special-teams trickery, having a quarterback on the field in those sneaky situations is another clear plus.

Bosher and Perrelli were together for so long, the routine of snap-hold-kick became second nature, one of the reasons why Bosher ranked among the nation's most accurate a year ago on field goals. When Whipple was getting started in his new role, both Bosher and Perrelli laid out exactly what he needed to do, and the quarterback-turned-holder listened to every piece of advice.

"At the start, he had a little trouble," said Ivory, who was a backup long snapper on placekicks last year, and has handled the snaps on Bosher's Miami punting duties in the past, "but he actually picked it up pretty fast. We went out there all summer, going out three or four times a week, getting a lot of extra work in. He's been doing good."

Ivory and Whipple both know they have critical jobs that never get noticed. Unless, of course, a kick gets botched.

"Little pressure," Ivory said. "I try not to think about it. Hopefully, nobody hears my name, because if they do, I messed something up."

Whipple says he's welcoming the responsibility.

He's bounced around from school to school, largely as his father would go from one coaching stop to another. His high school career started at South Hadley (Mass.) High, then continued at Pine-Richland High in Gibsonia, Pa., after Mark Whipple went to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Spencer Whipple started his college career at Pittsburgh, then appeared in one game for the University of Massachusetts in 2008, then followed his dad to Miami in 2009.

These days, he has the two things he wants most - a home and a job.

"To get a chance to be on the field every game is great," Whipple said. "Special teams is a big part. Whatever role they give me, I'm going to do it with my best efforts. Chris is actually my roommate, the backup kicker Jake (Wieclaw) is my other roommate, so we're all together a lot. We have that bond, holder-snapper-kicker. When those guys are close, it all gets to be automatic."



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