Morris: Long-snapper Matechuk all ears around McCallum | B.C. Lions

Hearing advice can be a little bit like listening to songs on the radio. Sometimes you pay attention, other times you tune out the noise.

Long-snapper Jordan Matechuk made sure he was all ears when B.C. Lions' kicker Paul McCallum offered him some suggestions on how to do his job better.

"It's a respect thing," Matechuk said after the Lions practised on a wet day at their training facility. "It was the knowledge the man has.

"He knows all the tricks. He's seen the game. He's seen every snapper in the league. He's a pro. He studies other players. He can give me advice and I can take it."

Matechuk, who the Lions claimed off the Saskatchewan Roughriders' practice roster in July, admits other kickers have given him advice in the past.

Getting comfortable


"You want everything to be similar but it's very hard. It's all about becoming familiar and getting comfortable with every one."

- BC Lions kicker Paul McCallum

"But none I ever listened to," he said with a laugh.

McCallum has managed to remain one of the CFL's most consistent kickers even though he's dealt with a changing cast around him. Since the 2012 training camp McCallum has worked with five snappers and two holders. Each had their own idiosyncrasies.

"It's very disconcerting for a kicker to change holders and a snapper," said Chuck McMann, B.C.'s special team's co-ordinator.

"It's the timing. It's where the ball is located, how fast the holder can get it down, the confidence the kicker has the snapper is going to get it there."

McCallum said switching a snapper can change how fast the ball gets into a holder's hands. That forces the kicker to adjust his approach. Different holders catch the ball and place it on the tee differently, something a kicker must accommodate.

"You want everything to be similar but it's very hard," said McCallum, who at 43 is the oldest player in the league.

"It's all about becoming familiar and getting comfortable with every one."

McCallum missed a 43-yard field goal attempt in B.C.'s 29-26 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week. He had made his previous six attempts after missing twice in an Aug. 5 game against Winnipeg.

McCallum is anxious to start a new streak when the Lions face the Tiger-Cats Saturday at Alumni Stadium in Guelph.

Backup quarterback Thomas DeMarco has been McCallum's holder for field goals and converts this season. Veteran Angus Reid did some snapping in training camp before suffering a back injury. Matt Norman handled the duties before being replaced by Matechuk in the third week of the season.

McCallum quickly noticed that how Matechuk was lining up affected how the ball travelled back to the holder.

"He was lining up square to the field but sometimes I wouldn't be square right behind him," said McCallum. "When he was snapping, he was throwing the ball in different directions instead of lining up (and) always throwing it in the same direction."

McCallum told Matechuk to get comfortable in his stance, then re-adjust his feet so he was lined up square with DeMarco. Sound simple but not something every kicker would notice.

"I'm the kind of kicker that watches from the snap," said McCallum, who is playing in his 21st CFL season and 10th in B.C.

"Some guys just look at the tee. I watch the snap. I can gauge the velocity of the ball and get my timing."

The five-foot-10, 254-pound Matechuk is a native of Yorkton, Sask. Acquiring the 27-year-old, who spent three seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, has improved the Lions' kicking game.

"He has good velocity and usually it's a nice, tight spiral," said McMann. "His aim has been very good.

"It's helped Paul to have more confidence in not only his field goals but also his punting. He's a lot more comfortable. He knows the ball is going to get back fast."

Before arriving in B.C. Matechuk had not been a long snapper for three years.

"It's like riding a bike," he said. "You just get back into the groove."

DeMarco held for field goals and point-after attempts when he played college football for Old Dominion. He is still adjusting to the tee used in the CFL.

"It's not really a big thing, except maybe when it gets wet," said the 24-year-old from Palm Desert, Calif. "It might slide a little bit. You just have to be careful how you put it on."

McMann said DeMarco is still learning the mechanics of holding.

"DeMarco has really come along," McMann said. "This year we have been a little more urgent."

"You can't be mechanical. You want to be smooth but you can't be slow."

DeMarco shrugged when asked about holding for a future CFL Hall of Fame kicker.

"You're holding the ball for a great kicker," he said. "There is absolutely no pressure in that sense."

"You do your job, he's going to put it through for you."

McCallum, who missed the first three games of the season with an injury, has made 12 of his 15 field goal attempts this year. His longest was 47 yards.

"I'm not comfortable with the way I am hitting the ball," he said. "My three misses were identical. What I am doing is very fixable but it's just frustrating.

McCallum expects things will improve as he becomes more in rhythm with Matechuk and DeMarco.

"It's the timing," he said. "Every year things change."

"You have to build your comfort level. That comes with more practise and time with them."

Who gets YOUR vote for Player of the Year?