As Ben Sauls trotted onto the field at Sun Bowl Stadium last month, he had only missed one field attempt since Sept. 17 — a 54-yarder against Virginia in November.
He had missed two key field goal attempts in a loss to Tennessee, and his first attempt the next week against Western Michigan, and those misses were able to serve as the kick in the butt that he needed.
“Really, I looked back on the film and it kinda just came down to finishing the ball — finishing my kick,” Sauls said in November. “The Tennessee game, both those missed left, so on the film, technical-wise, you can tell my leg kinda just stayed open. I left it open, kinda scared to miss, so my attitude has been different. I’m trying to kick it through the uprights, just finish through the ball.”
Sauls connected on the next 12-of-13 field goal attempts following the initial miss against WMU, and it boiled down to a healthy mindset — positivity and confidence galore.
“You are what you tell yourself, and I think I’m pretty decent at what I do, to be honest, I think I’m really good at what I do,” Sauls said. “And when you put it together, you get good results like the last few weeks.”
So, when Pitt called on Ben Sauls five times against UCLA in the Sun Bowl, he was ready.
Sauls connected on all five of his field goal attempts — and both point-after attempts — to score a career-high 17 points. He nailed field goal attempts from 22, 49, 31, 27 and a game-winning 47-yarder with four seconds left.
For his efforts, which was a Sun Bowl record, Sauls was named to the 2022-23 All-Bowl Team.
2022-23 All-Bowl Team ✨ @AP_Top25
K Ben Sauls » @BSauls22
5-for-5 FG 🙌 Career-High 17 Points
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) January 12, 2023
Sauls connected on 20-of-24 field goal attempts (83%) in 2022, and he nailed all 47 of his point-after attempts. All of which came in addition to his duties as Pitt’s starting kickoff specialist.
He will return for his redshirt junior season in 2023 and look to continue a stretch of excellent kicking.