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Punting is Winning, Week 5: I fixed punting stats (with help)!

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Thanks to Ardichoke for helping me make a stat

Western Kentucky v Michigan State
Jayden Reed takes his second punt return to the house this season
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

I have often bemoaned the inapplicability (is that a word?) of punting stats. Well, after much complaining, one of you decided you were sick of it and made me a stat! Ardichoke created this little formula which is good because I had no idea where to start!

Yards available x sqrt(distance/ungained yards)

So, first picture a 100-yard plane, starting at your own goal line so it is zero and the opposing goal line is 100. Take your starting position (let’s say it’s the 25) and subtract it from 100 (so 75). Then, take the distance of the punt (let’s say 50), and 100 minus the downed spot to represent yards remaining. 50/25 is 2, the square root of two is 1.414, and that times 75 is 106.05.

The big problem here was that punts towards the 1 tended to rise in value exponentially. I looked at some sabermetric stats, tested a few ideas, and found a formula that I really liked the result of. And that formula is a doozy.

sqrt(distance x sqrt(distance/(ungained yards+5))) x 5.03

The 5 inside the inner square root is to level out the end (so that punts inside the 5 don’t raise so exponentially in value), and the multiplier on the end is so that a 98-yard, 1 to 1 punt is worth about 100 points. All that gives us OTE’s first punting statistic, the Punting Index System Score, or P.I.S.S.

So, what exactly does this mean? Well, I’m happy to say the formula seems to evenly reward long punts and coffin kicks, so I have some way to judge the difference between a Jordan Stout and a Bryce Baringer. A score of 35 is roughly average, and the median score in the Big Ten is a 38.700. The best season average is Adam Korsak with a 43.254, and the worst is Daniel Cerni with a 28.787. It is not a perfect stat, but I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I hope you are too. And again, thank you to Ardichoke for laying the groundwork.

So, before I get into this week, I want to talk about applying this retroactively. I don’t plan to use this stat as the sole deciding factor for punter of the week, for reasons including circumstances and sample sizes (samples size?), but I would like if it matched up with my picks. In weeks 2 and 3, I chose Adam Korsak. Now, in week 3, that was obviously the correct choice. His 56.720 PISS was the highest we’ve seen from any punter until this week, and I think the small sample size (two punts) can be excused by his body of work this seaon. But in week 2, his 48.119 was actually third, behind Andy Vujnovich’s lone punt earning a 48.656 against Eastern Michigan, and Tory Taylor racking up a 49.349 across eight punts against Iowa State. In week 4, I said I didn’t know what to do with Bryce Baringer’s shotgun approach to punting, and I gave the award to Jordan Stout’s 43.484 PISS because he put all four of his punts inside the 10. This is impressive, but his 38.5 net yard average hurt his score, and Baringer’s two touchbacks didn’t hurt him as much as I would’ve thought. He ended with a 45.468. Sorry Bryce.

Poll

Do you like PISS?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Yes Atinat, you’ve created a great stat because you’re a genius who, I must say, is looking quite handsome today
    (65 votes)
  • 11%
    No math, just punting
    (18 votes)
  • 46%
    I’m just here to see if my team is mentioned
    (73 votes)
156 votes total Vote Now

Punter of the Week

Okay, 500 words before the awards. I’m sure that’s fine. So, right off the bat, the highest PISS is not winning punter of the week, because it was just one punt that came at the end of a blowout. Instead, the award goes to Mark Crawford of Minnesota, whose six punts totaled 308 yards for a 51.3 yard average. He landed four inside the twenty, and had one downed at the two. His efforts helped lead the Gophers to victory over Purdue, who had 150 more offensive yards but 130 fewer punting yards on the day. Crawford’s efforts earned him a 45.144 PISS, good for second highest of the weekend in the Big Ten. His best punt was his first, a 58-yarder downed at the 9, which received a score of 54.652.

Honorable Mentions

First, huge shoutout to the Nebraska Cornhuskers William Przystup. Przystup has been battling Daniel Cerni throughout the season for the starting job, and he got the nod on the only punt of the day, his seventh of the year. And boy did he deliver.

That was 84 yards. That scored a 76.635 PISS, the second highest of the year behind Korsak’s 69-yarder (nice) to the 1 in week two. I can’t give the award to one punt, but what a great response for Przystup to his lackluster (25.754) performance the week before, and harsh words from his punter-hating coach. Oh yeah, and he had a 7-yarder last week.

Also scoring above 40 on the day were Michigan’s Brad Robbins with a 42.457, Penn State’s Jordan Stout with a 42.111, and Northwestern’s Derek Adams with a 42.055. Robbins had 4 punts for 179 yards and put three of them inside the 20, including 1 at the 5. Stout had 6 kicks for 278 yards and put four inside the 20. Adams had 4 for 193 and 2 inside the twenty.

Returner of the Week

Aww, I don’t have a made-up stat for this. We do have a kick six though. Michigan State’s Jayden Reed took his first punt 88-yards to the house against Western Kentucky, notching Sparty’s first score in what ended up a blowout. He didn’t field another punt, but he did get 63 yards on two kick returns. I hear he also did some stuff on offense but I don’t care about that.

I love that every single blocker does the “I’m not touching him” because we’re not allowed to block on punts anymore. Yes, I know why. Yes, it’s a good thing. Yes, this is still funny.

Honorable Mentions

I want to mention Charlie Jones again. Though his averages aren’t great, the kid tries to make something happen every time he touches the ball. He fielded two kick returns and four punt returns for a total of 86 yards. He also almost fumbled once, which is what Iowa fans fear (and what Jones doesn’t fear) every time he tries for a punt that others would fair catch, but the fumble was overturned on review.

Michigan’s AJ Henning did a great job at limiting the effectiveness of Wisconsin punter Andy Vujnovich, cutting 37 yards off of his total and 4.5 yards off of his average. Vujnovich had his first punt downed at the 1, but only one of his next seven got inside the 20.

Kicker of the Week

There was quite a bit of competition in the kickers’ room this week! Ten had perfect days, with four of them hitting from beyond 40. This week’s honors go to Michigan’s Jake Moody, who was 3/3 on field goals and added three extra points for 12 points total. He also had 7 of Michigan’s 13 first half points, so he gets credit for getting the ball rolling before the game got ugly. He also was the only kicker to hit from beyond 40 twice, notching efforts from 48 and 47.

Honorable Mentions

Jordan Stout, who won punter last week, was the only kicker to hit from 50 this week. He also added three extra points in the Nittany Lions’ 24-0 victory over Indinia. Minnesota’s Matthew Trickett had 8 of his Gopher’s 20 points thanks to two field goals and two extra points. He hit from 42 yards. Iowa’s Caleb Shudak hit from 41 yards and added two more field goals along with six extra points to total 15 of the Hawkeye’s 51 points.

Here’s some more PISS numbers. View them, ignore them, I don’t care.

me

Outside the Empire

I almost didn’t include this again because nothing caught my eye this week, but late in the Monday night NFL game we got a fake field goal pooch punt. Y’know, if shit like this happened more often, I might watch the NFL. Also if I wasn’t a Jets fan.