Del Grosso not dwelling on missed field goal

This is part of a story on Indiana kicker Aaron Del Grosso that will run in Thursday’s Herald-Times and online at Heraldtimesonline.com

Bill Manolopoulos wishes he could’ve been on the Indiana sideline on Aug. 30, a familiar voice of comfort and reason in the moments after Aaron Del Grosso missed his first collegiate field goal.

Manolopoulos remembers everything from the first game of the 1993 season, his first as the IU kicker. He recalls all the little details, the vivid reminders of a day that confirmed his arrival at one of the highest levels of college football.

So, Manolopoulos felt for Del Grosso when he missed on his first attempt — a 26-yard shot that bounced off the right upright in the north end zone of Memorial Stadium. But Manolopoulos also knows Del Grosso well enough not to worry.

Manolopoulos has served as Del Grosso’s personal kicking coach since the latter’s junior year of high school, helping him refine his technique and mechanics well enough for Del Grosso to follow his foot steps to Bloomington.

The two Hobart High School graduates formed a bond through kicking and continue to talk regularly. The missed kick has come up in recent conversation, but both say Del Grosso has moved on and is ready to boot his first college field goal through the uprights this weekend at Bowling Green.

“He always makes his second field goal,” Manolopoulos said. “He’s never been one of those kids who gets down in the dumps about it. … He’s a hard-working kid and the biggest thing I tell people is that he wants to do well for Indiana football.”

Del Grosso admits nerves got the best of him when he was asked to attempt his first college field goal. Manolopoulos could have diagnosed as much.

Del Grosso hurried himself into the kick and his form was off, but he spent the bye week working past it and preparing for Bowling Green.

“I gotta move on, feel better and get the next one,” Del Grosso said. “I let go of it. We started the bye week and I kicked a lot of field goals, so it exited the back of my mind.”

To Del Grosso’s credit, he was outstanding on kickoffs both before and after the missed field goal attempt. The redshirt-freshman walk-on was the only Big Ten kicker to send all five of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

Working during the summer with veterans Matt Dooley and Erich Toth on the specialist crew helped ease Del Grosso into game action.

“It felt good,” Del Grosso said. “It was good working with Dooley and Toth because they’ve been under the lights plenty of times with (Mitch) Ewald. It was comfortable going out there with them.”