La plus ca change… goes the old adage, and 2014 looks to be no different. With the whirl of changes going on with Notre Dame’s coverage units, e.g. Greg Bryant likely pulling double-duty both covering and returning, punter-kicker is a position group where there is really only one pick in 2014. Whereas the Irish had multiple players competing in the kicking game in 2013 (Brindza, Tausch, Wulfeck), 2014 only has two roster spots: Brindza and sophomore John Chereson.
THE IRISH: KICKER and PUNTER
Senior Kyle Brindza is the clear pick here. Like last year, he’s on the preseason Lou Groza Award Watch List and comes off a stellar performance in the Pinstripe Bowl against Rutgers, where his FIVE field goals, out of six attempts, put him tied for first in the NCAA record books for the most FG’s in a bowl game. Kyle is all over the Irish record books, too. For example, he’s a co-holder of the record for longest FG in Notre Dame history, a fifty-three yarder versus Arizona State in last year’s Shamrock Series tilt, which you can watch here:
As a punter, Kyle is also a solid, albeit unspectacular, performer. His career long, fifty-six yards, came last season against Pitt. He punted forty-three times total in 2013 for 1,769 yards. Compare this with A&M’s punter in 2013, Drew Keser, who managed 2085 yards on forty-four punts. While there are a huge number of variables that prevent an apples-to-apples comparison of punters, who may be called upon to punt a similar amount of times in dissimilar circumstances,
THE ENEMY: KICKER
The enemy kicker is another Seminole, last year’s Lou Groza Award Winner and top of this year’s watch list, Roberto Aguayo. He’s only a red shirt sophomore and his performance last season in FSU’s run to the crystal football was remarkable. He was 21 of 22 in field goals and a perfect 94 of 94 in PATs. He kicked-off 120 times for 7301 yards. Compare that to Brindza’s 75 kickoffs for 4692 yards.
Roberto is all over the record books, too. His 94 PATs are the most without a miss in NCAA history. His career long is also fifty-three yards. He appeared on five different post-season All American lists.
Here’s what you can expect in Tallahassee:
THE ENEMY: PUNTER
James Ferrimond from Rice, because Rice! Ferrimond is a former walk-on who is one of three 2014 Ray Guy Award Watch Listees the Irish will face this year. The other two are Riley Dixon from Syracuse and Thomas Hibbard from UNC. Last season, he booted the ball seventy-one times for 2989 yards, for an average of 42.15 yards. He had eleven punts go for more than fifty yards and put fifteen punts inside the twenty.