Ahh yes, another week, another edition of the Third Phase, the column that focuses strictly on punting. You can read previous posts here.
Last week, we covered a few of the candidates who could become semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award. We have five more potential candidates for this week’s edition. So kick back, relax, and carefully consider these candidates.
1. Zach Sinor- Oklahoma State
I realize that Mr. Sinor is, or at least was, lobbying to be a candidate for the Heisman Trophy. However, he’s a legitimate contender for the Ray Guy Award.
Sinor doesn’t have the numbers as his counterpart down in Texas, but he’s still pretty darn good. Of course, his team also hasn’t needed his punting services all that much. Sinor has punted the ball a grand total of 28 times this season.
He had five alone in Saturday’s win at Iowa State, averaging 44.6 per boot. It’s also the second-most punts in a game he’s had all season.
Regardless, it wouldn’t surprise us to see Sinor named as a semifinalist this week.
2. Corey Bojorquez- New Mexico
The Lobos haven’t had a very good season. Texas A&M blew them out Saturday night and they’ve lost five straight. If there is a bright spot, it’s Bojorquez, who is second in the conference in punting average with 47.3.
Bojorquez is just behind conference leader Ryan Stonehouse of Colorado State. However, Bojorquez has punted the ball 18 times more than Stonehouse.
At least four times this season, Bojorquez has booted the ball at least 70 yards on a punt. His longest went 78 yards against Colorado State.
None of Bojorquez’s 10 punts on Saturday against Texas A&M went 70 yards. He did boot one 62-yards. However, that went to Christian Kirk, who returned it 90 yards for a touchdown.
In Bojorquez’s defense, Christian Kirk is really good. Bojorquez won Ray Guy Punter of the Week honors for week 8.
3. Tom Sheldon- North Carolina
You wouldn’t think it would make sense to include a punter who didn’t punt in two games. However, Tom Sheldon is one of the best in the ACC. He might not have punted against Miami or Virginia, but that doesn’t mean anything. He’s still an active participant.
Sheldon, who was named Ray Guy Punter of the Week for week 2, leads the ACC in punting average with 45.8 yards per boot. If he keeps it up, he’s running well past his pace from last year.
Now, Sheldon only punted three times in North Carolina’s victory over Pittsburgh. His best punt of the day was arguably his first one, which went 39 yards and was downed at the Pitt 18-yard line. He had a less than stellar game. But hey, it’s Heinz Field. Bad games will happen. We think he’s still a solid contender.
4. Jake Bailey- Stanford
Bailey only needed to punt twice in Friday night’s upset victory over the Washington Huskies and his longest punt went just 42 yards. However, the Cardinals have relied on Bailey’s punting ability at times this season. Bailey has been a solid punter for Stanford.
He’s averaging 44.3 yards per boot this season, which puts him in the top three in the Pac-12.
The best showing for Bailey came against Washington State when he punted the ball eight times, averaging 47 yards per boot. His best average (51.3) came against USC early in the season.
5. Trevor Daniel- Tennessee
You can throw Tennessee in the group of teams that haven’t had a good season, yet they have a really good punter. Daniel won the Ray Guy Punter of the Week Award for week 1.
Daniel is second in the SEC in average punting yards with 47.1. Of course, Daniel has punted a lot this season, 62 times to be exact. That leads the SEC.
Daniel punted the ball seven times against Missouri Saturday night, averaging 45.1 yards.
So there you go! That is my list of candidates to watch for. In a way, I guess you can call this a prediction. So I’ll recap it:
- Mitch Wishnowsky- Utah
- Michael Dickson- Texas
- Johnny Townsend- Florida
- JK Scott- Alabama
- Kaare Vedvik- Marshall
- Trevor Daniel- Tennessee
- Zach Sinor- Oklahoma State
- Corey Bojorquez- New Mexico
- Jake Bailey- Stanford
- Tom Sheldon- UNC
How many of these do I get right? I don’t know. Maybe I get 0 out 10. I imagine some of these names will be right, but who knows. I’m sure you’ll all have fun laughing at my expense. Either way, we’ll know the semifinalists this week. And then the finalists will be named next week.
Bad MACtion Punting
Now that it’s November, we’re seeing more mid-week college football games played by the MAC. And with that, unfortunately, comes some less than stellar punting efforts.
Our first example features Kent State punter (and Ray Guy candidate), Derek Adams. Unfortunately for Adams, his blockers let him down on this fourth down play versus Western Michigan. This forced Adams to improvise and as you can tell from this clip, it didn’t go well.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) November 9, 2017
That’s tough to watch, for sure.
Meanwhile, the other instance featured Ball State punter Nate Snyder having his punt blocked by Northern Illinois. As you can see in the footage for this, the blocking on this play didn’t go very well.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) November 10, 2017
Please be better at blocking on punts, MAC teams!
You might think Bojorquez had the most punts of the week with his effort against Texas A&M on Saturday night. You’re wrong!
The honor for most punts belongs to Illinois’ Blake Hayes, who booted it 11 times for an average of 41.4 yards against Indiana on Saturday.
For fewest, we have a tie, but it’s a serious and legitimate reason. Army and Duke faced off on Saturday. And the teams combined for two punts. Each one recorded a punt.
Nick Schrage had a punt of 38 yards for Army, while Austin Parker of Duke had one for 43 yards.
For the Third Phase Punter of the Week award, we’re going with Wisconsin’s Anthony Lotti. In the game against Iowa Saturday, Lotti punted the ball five times, averaging 43.6 yards. Lotti played such a key role in helping the Badgers win the field position battle.
Three of Lotti’s five punts pinned Iowa inside their 10. One punt went 62 yards and the punt team downed it at the Iowa eight-yard line. The other two punts placed Iowa at the 20 (one moved there because of a holding call on the Hawkeyes). Iowa didn’t return any of Lotti’s punts.
On the flip side, the Ray Guy Award committee gave its punter of the week honors to Mac Loudermilk of Central Florida. Loudermilk punted the ball four times, averaging 51.3 yards per boot. One of those punts went 69 yards.
This is the final week that the Ray Guy Award will give punter of the week honors for the season. Don’t fret though, the Third Phase will continue on for the remainder of the regular season. We’re gonna continue to praise the punters.
Now if you excuse me, I’m going to lie down before you all start going “NICE” at the 69-yard punt thing.