Brian Franco felt Sam Ficken's pain during Penn State's 17-16 loss to Virginia last week.
Ficken missed four field goals, including the potential 42-yard gamewinner as time expired, and had an extra point blocked. His other misses came from 40, 20 and 32.
"I've been in his shoes," Franco said from his home in Jacksonville on Wednesday. "It's tough. It's a long plane ride home."
Franco missed four field goals in Penn State's 17-14 loss to Miami in the Orange Bowl in 1981.
Until Ficken's 1-for-5 performance at Virginia, Franco was the last PSU kicker to miss four times in one game, although Ryan Primanti and David Kimball combined to miss four in a 33-11 loss to Michigan in 2000.
While this is Ficken's first season as the Lions' starting kicker - Saturday's attempts were his first this year - Franco was in the midst of an excellent senior season in 1981.
Penn State entered the game against the Hurricanes 6-0 and ranked No. 1, and much of the game was played in a driving rain.
"I still remember to this day," Franco, a product of Altoona Area High School, said. "My first attempt was 52 yards. I just pushed it right, but I hit it well. The next one [from 47], the wind started picking up, and I was lining up to kick with the wind and the quarter was running down, and nobody called timeout. Now I was kicking into a pretty stiff breeze.
"And suddenly, I was 0-for-2."
But Franco wasn't terribly unnerved. He was 10-of-11 up to that point in the season, including a 5-for-5 effort at Nebraska, and led the nation in field-goal accuracy.
The Orange Bowl, though, became "a monsoon," Franco said, and he missed from 22 late in the first half.
"That was a surprise and by the fourth one [from 23], my emotions started getting to me, and I started pressing a little bit," he said. "On top of personally missing four field goals, the impact was also huge on the team and the rankings."
Franco said his confidence got a boost from Joe Paterno at Monday's practice.
"Joe just told me, 'Don't overcompensate. You've gotten to this point, you're leading the nation in kicking. You know how to kick - don't start changing things.' Psychologically, I was prepared to snap back."
Penn State coach Bill O'Brien tried to take some pressure off Ficken earlier this week by saying the protection, snaps and holds weren't consistently precise.
Franco noticed the same thing, especially on Ficken's kick that would have won the game.
"When you have a kid in that situation, you want to make sure everything is right," he said. "The snap was a bit off, and the laces were sideways. You'd probably rather kick the laces than have them to the side. His hips probably weren't aligned. There are subtle differences between making and missing. I also thought after he nodded [that he was ready] that he started leaning forward before the snap came. It sounds like an excuse, but that's our world."
Franco, a former most valuable player of the Jacksonville Bulls of the old United States Football League, thinks Ficken will rebound.
"Just watching his emotions, the way he handled it, he seemed fairly steady paced, and he didn't seem that emotional that it would necessarily impact him, longterm," he said. "We'll only be able to tell by the next situation, but obviously he earned a scholarship, and he knows how to kick. He got the ball up pretty well [each time]. He just pulled it."
Franco, who made 15 of 21 in 1981 and 17 of 23 for his career, said O'Brien and the Lions can help bring Ficken back.
"If the coach handles things right - and I think O'Brien has class - and the team shows they have confidence, I think he [Ficken] will be fine," he said. "They're going to need him, and I think they'll play themselves into a decent football team."