The Third Phase: Peter Purdue Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Punters

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It’s that time again! You know what time it is! Time is time! IT’S PUNT TIME! Yes, folks, it is that time for another edition of the Third Phase. Or as I like to call it, “Spend all day trying to think of writing a good intro.”

Powerful Purdue Punting Pickles Plucky Plentiful (P)Ohio (P)State

The Purdue Boilermakers took the spotlight last Saturday night in their win over second-ranked Ohio State. Big stars stepped up in big moments for the Boilermakers. Sure, Rondale Moore, David Blaugh and DJ Knox had standout games. However, one unsung herostepped up when Purdue needed him to and it might have been the biggest moment of the game.

Late in the first half, on 4th and 3 at the Ohio State 13, the Boilermakers lined up for a field goal try to increase their lead. However, it turned out to be a fake. Punter Joe Schopper scooped up the ball and ran four-yards to pick up the first down.

One play later, Blough connects with Moore on a nine-yard touchdown to put the Boilermakers ahead of the Buckeyes 14-3 at the half.

As tough as a fake punt play looks, I have to imagine fake field goal plays are tougher. Everyone on the defensive side is right at or near the line and they all have one goal in mind: Block the kick, or at least get enough pressure that the kicker misses.

With Schopper as the placeholder, he has to hold down the ball long enough to make Ohio State think they’re settling for the field, only to pick it up and run. And he has to do all of this knowing full well that 11 guys are rushing at him trying to keep Purdue from scoring.

If that’s not enough, Schopper can’t run inside for obvious reasons, he has to go outside and hope he gets far enough that he picks up the first down. It’s a big play and a big moment. When people talk about this game, they’ll likely talk about the fake field goal play that fooled the Buckeyes.

Schopper did more than just pick up a first down, though. He had an outstanding punt effort. Schopper had six punts on Saturday night, having two land inside the 20. In fact, both of those punts landed inside the 10, with one being downed at the two.

The other punt happened to be a 51-yarder, one of two Schopper had for the game, that was fair caught by KJ Hill at the Ohio State 7.

Saturday night’s win over Ohio State was one for Purdue in which all three phases of the game succeeded. Everybody has to work together to succeed. If you want to beat one of the best teams in the country, then that’s what you have to do.

We salute you, Mr. Schopper! May you, Purdue Pete, and everyone else continue to score wins.

Making the Best of the Situation

Last Saturday didn’t go well for the Michigan State Spartans. They lost to noted in-state rival Michigan and while the score was 21-7, it felt like the Wolverines were up by a lot more.

Tyler Hunt has helped out with punting for Michigan State since Jake Hartbarger was injured (and later reported to be likely done for the season). Hunt got a lot of punting experience against Michigan. On Saturday he did a lot, 11 times in fact. One punt, however, almost wasn’t. What am I talking about? Take a look for yourself.

https://twitter.com/BigTenNetwork/status/1053735074942791680

Your eyes do not deceive you, that long snap was just a bit outside. Hunt latched onto wide snap with one hand, took off to his right and booted the ball (rugby style). That punt went 60 yards as it went out of bounds at the Michigan 18. It was one of four punts for Hunt to land inside the 20. The 60-yarder was the longest punt of the game for Hunt.

It was an amazing effort for Hunt to do all that in less than ideal weather conditions. To pull off something that smooth is amazing. We’ll see if Hunt stays as the punter for the remainder of the season. As a redshirt freshman, it’s clear he’s already gaining valuable experience.

Speaking of Weather

For a brief point on Saturday, Camp Randall Stadium looked like it was about to be taken over by some kind of snow monster. That’s because it was snowing…like a lot!

While it didn’t last long, it’s clear that the snow had a bit of an effect for Wisconsin when it came to one of their punts in the first quarter.

With the snow falling, Wisconsin’s Anthony Lotti struggled with the snap and got off a 13-yard punt. However, Illinois lost two-yards on the play, so it was more like a net punt of 15 yards…if you really want to get technical!

Lotti and Wisconsin got over it okay. He punted four times in the game, averaging 33.8 yards. Those 13-yard punts will do that to you. None of Lotti’s punts went 50 yards. His longest was a 43-yarder. Don’t worry, though because Wisconsin won.

(Not) A Lot of Punting

We already mentioned Tyler Hunt and all the punting he did this week. Sadly, no other punter in FBS had double-digit punts. So we’re going to do a 180 and mention a punter who punted the least during last week’s games.

Ohio’s Michael Farkas made the most out of his opportunity in punting during last week’s victory over Bowling Green. Farkas punted the ball once for 47 yards. The punt was downed at the Bowling Green 11. It was the only punt in the game for Ohio.

We’ll go ahead and throw another punter in this as Dane Roy of Houston punted once versus Navy last Saturday. Roy’s one punt traveled 37 yards. It’s quite a contrast compared to the week before when Roy had 10 punts versus East Carolina.

Awards

There were a lot of solid contenders to consider for this week. But for the first time this season we’re going with someone outside the Power Five as Third Phase Punter of the Week.

This week, we’re going with Yannis Routsas of the University of Texas-San Antonio or UTSA for short. Last year’s Ray Guy semifinalist had an amazing game last week at Southern Miss.

Routsas punted the ball nine times, averaging 47.33 yards. Of those nine punts, six of them went inside the 20. Three of those were inside the 10, including two inside the five.

If that’s not enough, Routsas had some nice distance on a few of those punts. Five of them traveled 50 or more yards. His longest punt of the game was a 58-yarder downed at the Southern Miss 2-yard line. So far this season, Routsas has 14 punts of 50 or more yards this season, which is a career-best.

So who is the Ray Guy Award Punter of the Week? That too went to Routsas. It’s undoubtedly a big week for the Roadrunners.