Kirk Ferentz says that Iowa Might Stop Returning Punts

Submitted by El Fuego on October 9th, 2013 at 1:26 PM

I know Brian discussed the idea of not returning punts in favor of going for the block, but Kirk Ferentz recently said that Iowa may stop returning punts so he can prevent fake punts:

Ferentz is considering just sending a punt returner deep to catch the ball and do nothing else with it. Instead of sending blockers back to set up the return, the other ten players will remain at the line of scrimmage to keep the opponent from running a fake punt.

It's a bold strategy Cotton, let's see if it pays off for 'em...




October 9th, 2013 at 1:29 PM ^

ND didn't return punts for almost a year in 2011 (IIRC).  They just had their returner fair catch everytime. 

It seems like a lot of teams only half-heartedly go after placekicks these days, with the edge defenders hanging back in case of a fake. 


October 9th, 2013 at 3:31 PM ^

I sort of doubt it actually.  I can see this strategy resulting in a lot of situations where the punt catcher has eight opposing men bearing down on him.  That can't make it easier to catch the ball.  Ferentz better have a really sure-handed guy or this strategy could backfire.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:35 PM ^

I think Kirk is confused..he's supposed to stop punting most of the time

Edit: But this is probably in response to getting duped by Mork who was lying in the weeds.  Seriously, MSU tries fakes all the time, you'd think opposing coaches would be ready for it by now.

/Looks at Brady Hoke


October 9th, 2013 at 1:38 PM ^

How many times have they been fooled by a fake? This seems like a dumb strategy. If he were at least looking for a block, I would understand, but just allowing the punter a free shot, with no return?


October 9th, 2013 at 1:43 PM ^

I do this on occassion in NCAA Football, where I'll call a normal defense and then control the safety and start him off way back from the line of scrimmage to return the punt if it comes.

And I can imagine doing something similar in real football on rare occasions.  But on every punt?  When you run a conservative ball-control offense that often relies on winning field position to generate points?

If I were an Iowa fun, I hope he's just joking and letting off steam.  As a Michigan fan, I want very much for him to start doing this.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:59 PM ^

This is similar to Jadaveon Clowney's strategy of never playing another down of football, but instead cashing in for all of future time merely on his potential. He's hoping to get drafted high, make the big bucks, and then just serve as a sort of sideline intimidator because, as we all know, he can lay the wood when he's unblocked!

Wolverines Dominate

October 9th, 2013 at 1:59 PM ^

I think that is a great idea. The odds of returning a punt for a good gain, let alone a TD, are very high. I'd rather prevent a fake punt and get the ball back (assuming the guy you have catching the punt does not drop it). Even so, with ten guys preventing the fake or going for a block, more people on the punt team would have to remain back to block, this possibly giving the guy catching the punt more room to possibly have a return.


October 9th, 2013 at 2:03 PM ^

The Cedar Rapids Gazette threw in some quotes in their piece (HERE), but perhaps most notably, it mentions that the fake on Saturday was the 6th one that the Hawkeyes have experienced since 2010.

They also give a quote from Ferentz that would give one the impression that he sees some strange karmic payback in this season's experience:

“What helped us a couple of weeks ago [wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley's two punt returns for touchdowns vs. Western Michigan] we paid for on Saturday. It cost us a field goal and a possession. So yeah, I may be leaning toward the point where you never try to see us return one again. Just fair catch it and try to keep it off the ground.”

gustave ferbert

October 9th, 2013 at 2:18 PM ^

referencing Brian and the block, I thought it was an onion article or something.  It made much more sense for Ferentz to think about preventing a fake.  BTW when was the last time Ferentz tried to BLOCK a punt?


October 9th, 2013 at 3:01 PM ^

the coach that has run the same offense and defense for a decade is going to "revolutionize" punt returns?


maybe he is expecting that his opponents are punting from the 38 going into the endzone, like ferentz


October 9th, 2013 at 3:08 PM ^

In the last three years opponents have been successful 6 times in 6 tries deploying a fake punt against Iowa.

Not covering a return is one thing but I can tell you one thing Kirk will never stop doing........punting.


October 9th, 2013 at 4:18 PM ^

Then the opposing team can just do an unimpeded rugby kick each time. It will be a bouncing football vs. 1 lone return man, which means either: A. Great oppurtunity for a fumble, B. Great oppurtunity for the returner to get out of the way so they can down it wherever the heck they want. C. The rugby kick turns the punt into an option where an athletic punter has a head start to break it for a first down if he spots any weaknesses in the D on 4th and short.

I'm no special teams wiz, but Ferentz's punt coverage idea seems a bit moronic.


October 9th, 2013 at 4:19 PM ^

UM had a special teams coach that was one of teh first to run a spread punt formation?  It didn't work so well and he resigned/got fired during the season.

snarling wolverine

October 9th, 2013 at 9:27 PM ^

Yes, but even with a return guy, lots of punts are never caught and are downed by the kicking team.  

Having a return guy means there is a possibility of a turnover.  If you want to play it safe you may as well not even have him there.

Ali G Bomaye

October 9th, 2013 at 5:48 PM ^

Sure, returners rarely get anything productive if the punting team is using a spread punt formation.  But not even setting up a return is still a huge negative.  Punters don't just kick the ball as far as they can; they have to factor in things like hang time and angles.  If they were just kicking the ball as far as they could, they could probably hit it 5-10 yards farther on average. 

If the defense doesn't even attempt to block the gunners or set up the threat of a return, then the punter can just boom it.  So you're really losing that 5-10 yards every punt over what you would get just by setting up a return and fair catching it.


October 9th, 2013 at 6:54 PM ^

The only problem I see is that it will extend the game by a couple of seconds, and nobody should be subjected to watching Iowa football any longer than is absolutely necessary.