With all the negativity flowing through the message boards these days, I thought it would be a good time to focus on something positive--Zoltan's mind bullets of awesomeness. This season, we're 2nd in the NCAA in net punting, averaging 43.08 yards per exchange. As I contemplated the omnipotence of our space emporer, I got curious as to how the new rugby punt was influencing our stats, so I did a little digging through the NCAA archives:
2006: 57th in net punting, 39.72 avg yards per punt, 34.92 net yards
2007: 48th in net punting, 41.10 avg yards per punt, 35.87 net yards
2008: 2nd in net punting, 44.98 avg yards per punt, 43.08 net yards
Unsuprisingly, we see an increase in the number of yards Zoltan is kicking the ball as he progresses throughout his career. However, the BIG increase is in the net yards, which means opponents are averaging fewer yards per return. In 2006, oponnents averaged 4.8 yards per return, in 2007, 5.23 yards per return, and in 2008, 1.9 yards per return.
I'm a huge fan of the rugby punt, because it does 2 things:
- It allows you to show a potential fake on every punt, and take it if it's there, as we did in the ND game
- Because the return team must defend the potential fake on every play, they can't sell out on the block or protect the return as much
I believe our large net punting increase is the cause of both our new style and Zoltan's mind bullets. Even the increase in raw kicking distance could be the result of more punts that roll because the returner can't make a play thanks to the increased time for the gunners to get downfield.
Of course, this is much too tiny of a sample size to make any real conclusions. If there was a listing of teams that have used the rugby punt over the past few years we could do some real analysis to assess its effectiveness. One caveat of the above numbers is that we don't do the roll-out rugby punt on every punt, so maybe the improvement is due simply to Zoltan Himself. Thoughts?