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Punting is Winning: Hello, Blake Hayes

Did Blake Hayes single-handedly beat Penn State? No, that wouldn’t’ve taken 9 OTs

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Wisconsin at Illinois Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

So, first of all, sorry for last week. I was in Kentucky, and didn’t have wifi because it hasn’t been introduced to the state yet, and really don’t like writing on my phone. But excuses are for wusses, and I could’ve done something about it if I really cared, so I’m sorry. But, the reason I didn’t care, is that punters... just weren’t very good last week.

Of the 9 punters who took the field, only Korsak, Baringer, and Crawford had a P.I.S.S.* above 35, and none had one above 40. For perspective, 3 of the 14 starting punters in the league have a season average above 40 (two of whom played last week), and 12 (!) have an average above 35, which is a roughly average score. So, for the record, Korsak gets Punter of the Week for his 44 net yard average, five of nine punts inside the 20 and one inside the 5, and a league-leading 39.959 PISS. Water is wet.

*For those not in the know, the Punting Index System Score is a metric developed by OTE commenter Ardichoke to quantify greatness in punting. There are multiple systems to rate quarterbacks; we’ve developed a system to rate the most important position. Across FBS football, the average PISS hovers around 35. For more information including the formula, read the linked article

Punter of the Week

Oh boy, here comes controversy. There’s an argument to be made that the performance of the punter should be taken irrespective of the performance of his team. I, to this point, have kind of ignored that argument. I mean, this column is called Punter is Winning, not Punting is a Neat Thing to Watch Regardless of the Game. One punter had a very good day. The punter opposite him also had a good day, if less so. But the latter won.

Congratulations Blake Hayes, for leading your Bert Boys to victory over the Shittnay Lions. Hayes had four punts with a 43 yard net average, landing three of those inside the 20. His PISS was a 40.497, raising his season average to 39.731. None of those four punts saw an attempted return from punter-killer Jahan Dotson, and they left Penn State with an average starting point of the sixteen-and-a-half yard line.

Now, first honorable mention has to go to Jordan Stout. Stout had, statistically, the better day. He took four more punts but maintained the i20 rate of 0.75, had an average punt five yards further, and actually allowed two fewer punter return yards, as the one attempt lost two yards. To really cement the point, he had a PISS of 44.598, a full four points higher. But, when push comes to shove, Illinois won, and so Hayes’s performance is weighted slightly higher. Hopefully this doesn’t happen to Korsak this week or I’d have to find a reason why he wins.

Of course, Illinois did not win in regulation, and punters are removed from the game in this iteration of overtime rules (and all previous, really). So, obviously, those rules have to change. I don’t think the answer is just a punt-off, because I want all the players involved. I mean, if we’re going to determine who the better team is, we have to use the whole team, right? So here’s how it works:

  1. Coinflip for possession.
  2. Kickoff.
  3. Offense is required to run exactly one run and one pass. It does not have to be in any order.
  4. Punt, regardless of position on field. The punt is allowed to be returned.
  5. Field goal from where the punt ends.
  6. Change possession, repeat steps 2-5.

If tied after one possession each, the game is a tie. Or give a criteria win to the longer field goal, I don’t care, I just need this game to end because my team plays next on this channel. If a team scores a touchdown, the defense must kickoff again and the receiving team can resume from the step where the touchdown was scored. So, if the offense scores on the first play, they can run the other play, then punt and attempt a field goal. If there is a punt return touchdown, the team that punted is entitled to receive a kickoff and attempt a field goal still.

Upsides: involves entire team, guaranteed to end quickly, is made by me

Downsides: oh looks we’re out of time, onto the rest of the article

Honorable mentions also go to Anthony Pecorella, whose 39.782 PISS really tried to keep Maryland in the game, and Mark Crawford, whose single attempt on the day netted a 53.233 PISS.

Kicker of the Week:

Hey it’s Illinois again! James McCourt attempted four field goals on Saturday, converting three, and added an extra point to total ten of the Illini’s twenty points. Winning kickers in close games get rewards, even though he wasn’t perfect and didn’t try from very long. You go 2/2 in overtime.

Honorable mentions to Stout, who was 3/4 with an extra point as well, hitting one from beyond 40, and Collin Larsh, the Badgers’ kicker who went 3/3 on extra points and 3/3 on field goals to total 12 of 30 points for Wisconsin. Michigan’s Moody, Maryland’s Petrino, and Minnesota’s Trickett all hit from beyond 40 as well.

Remember how I said the punters weren’t good last week? Yeah, that goes for the kickers as well. The league went 7/13 on field goals, with only Michigan State’s Coghlin going perfect from extra points and field goals (min one attempt both). He also had half the league’s 40-49 and 50+ makes, with one each.

Returner of the Week:

It’s Ohio State. Happy? No one else should really be trying returns. They do not appear worth it. Egbuka took one kickoff out for a 42-yard return, and Wilson attempted one punt return and got 20 yards off of it. The league average on kick returns minus Ohio State is 15 yards, and on punts it’s 5.

I promise next week it’ll be better, as I’m still on the road and kind of rushing this out. There will be gifs and tweets and polls in the future. Enjoy a mountain in the meantime.

Oh, and here’s your weekly/season PISS numbers. Get PISSed in the comments, PSU fans.