The punter and kicker positions never seem to draw excitement from fans before a season starts. Fans just seem to always just expect someone to be back there kicking field goals and booting punts, but not much buzz is generated during the process — until of course the kicker and punter starts to struggle.
The position that seems to get taken for granted a lot of times is the kicking specialists, so today is the day I break down what fans can expect to see on special teams this season.
The biggest loss to the special team units is most definitely former Iowa punter Ryan Donahue, who often wowed the fans for the past four seasons. Donahue will likely catch on to an NFL team — whenever this current lockout ends — and have a strong career at the next level.
Replacing Donahue won’t be easy and whoever gets that job is going to be in a tough spot. Fans expect booming kicks, bad field position for the opposing offenses and just solid performances each and every game. And once that expectation is developed it is hard for it to go away.
Taking over this year at punter will be either sophomore Eric Guthrie or redshirt freshman Jonny Mullings. Guthrie is big and tall — 6-foot-6, 245 pounds — and came to Iowa City after a solid high school career at Nevada High School in Iowa. He punted one time last year for 32 yards, but that will have to get better if he wants to lock down the position.
Fans expect punts to go at least 40 yards unless the punter is trying to pin the opposing offense inside the 20-yard line. Guthrie should have the inside track on the job due mostly to his age, but Mullings will get an equal chance to prove his worth when two-a-days begin in August.
Mullings is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound punter from Australia, but he did his high school punting for Ottumwa HIgh School in Iowa. This position is clearly anyone’s to take,and Mullings will go into August feeling like he should and will be the starting punter this fall. The one who gets will have earned it in practice.
Many Hawkeye fans will say whoever punts this year will not be the punter next season as the Iowa coaching staff just landed a top 10 punter from West Virginia this past week. Conner Kornbrath will be on campus in 2012 and he has the tools to be the punter or kicker of the future in Iowa City.
Speaking of kickers, that position may be open, too.
The kicker everyone expected to be starting at this point is junior Trent Mossbrucker, who came to Iowa City very highly touted around the nation. He has not performed up to his expected level though and has been passed up each and every season by a different kicker.
Three seasons ago, it was Daniel Murray. Last season, walk-on true freshman Mike Meyer emerged as the starting kicker. Meyer, a Dubuque, Iowa, native, made 14-of-17 field goals and 31-of-33 PATs and led the squad in scoring with 73 points. He also had 15 touchbacks on kickoffs which also is a statistic that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Meyer’s long was only 42 yards, which makes things interesting coming into August. Will Mossbrucker finally grab a hold of the position and be the guy or will Ferentz put Meyer back into the starting role? Those questions will be answered this August — hopefully.
Whatever happens, I just hope that we have one kicker settled in before September 3. I have never been a fan of using two kickers. And neither has Ferentz, but he hasn’t been given much of a choice in recent years.
Locked In Starter
In the Hunt
Eric Guthrie — sophomore from Nevada who had one 32-yard punt last season.
Jonny Mullings — redshirt freshman who hails from Australia and played high school football at Ottumwa High School.
Locked In Starter
In the Hunt
Mike Meyer — Sophomore who started last year. It is his job to lose at this point, but Ferentz takes this position by the season and what he did last year won’t matter in the final scheme of things. He made 14-of-17 field goals and 31-of-33 extra points last year as a walk-on true freshman.
Trent Mossbrucker — Junior who has not played up to his expectations so far in the Black and Gold. Fans seem to think he will be the guy at some point, but until Ferentz trusts his ability to make kicks consisently, expect Meyer to maintain his hold on the position.
Punter — Mullings
Kicker — Meyer