Forget The Numbers, Visual Evidence Says Feet Matter In Football

After UT announced that they'd landed the nation's #1 punter in Matt Darr for this year's class, ESPN's Pat Forde poked fun by tweet at Derek Dooley for earlier promoting the announcement as good news. Bruce Feldman got on the wagon with a retweet, and then Spencer gave the idea a running push, hopped on board, and rode it down the hill. Um . . . up into the sky. TARDY BROKEN METAPHOR ALERT.

Well. I'll show them, I thought. This is Tennessee, and around these parts, we have always loved our feet. Punters and kickers are important to outcomes of games, and surely the numbers would support me. Shirley, the best teams in the nation would also have some of the best feet.

Ahem. Turns out, not so much. Last year's final BCS rankings, with respective punter and field goal rankings:

Punting Field Goals
1 Alabama 45 2
2 Texas 93 5
3 Cincinnati 98 68
4 TCU 77 49
5 Florida 2 13
6 Boise State 14 39
7 Oregon 49 33
8 Ohio State 41 29
9 Georgia Tech 17 68
10 Iowa 32 22
11 Virginia Tech 23 16
12 LSU 28 35
13 Penn State 114 49
14 Brigham Young 36 99
15 Miami (FL) 62 65
16 West Virginia 11 68
17 Pittsburgh 85 4
18 Oregon State 61 7
19 Oklahoma State 55 57
20 Arizona 72 27
21 Stanford 31 40
22 Nebraska 81 5
23 Utah 35 9
24 USC 34 81
25 Wisconsin 63 35
Average ranking 50.36 37

 

Bah. With the exception of Florida (BAH!), none of last year's top 25 teams had top ten punters and only five of them had top 25 punters. The average punter ranking for top 25 teams was 50 and something. Field goals weren't that much better, with the exception of Alabama (BAHHHHHH!) and the Big 12. I'm sorry -- Texas.

How did the teams with the best punters and kickers fare last year? Ladies and gentlemen, here are your top ten. Dim the lights and here we go:

TOP TEN PUNTERS IN 2009
Rank Player Pos Cl Gm Punt Yds Avg Puntgm
1 Drew Butler, Georgia P SO 13 56 2691 48.05 4.31
2 Matt Dodge, East Carolina P SR 14 67 3069 45.81 4.79
3 Tress Way, Oklahoma K FR 13 61 2787 45.69 4.69
4 Matt Reagan, Memphis K SR 12 63 2868 45.52 5.25
5 Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma St. K FR 13 67 3023 45.12 5.15
6 Derek Epperson, Baylor P JR 12 54 2420 44.81 4.5
7 Michael Such, Tulsa P JR 12 57 2538 44.53 4.75
8 Zoltan Mesko, Michigan P SR 11 52 2312 44.46 4.73
9 Scott Kozlowski, West Virginia P SR 13 64 2844 44.44 4.92
10 Trevor Hankins, Arizona St. P JR 12 69 3049 44.19 5.75
TOP TEN FIELD GOAL KICKERS IN 2009
Rank Player Pos Cl Gm FGA FGM Pct FG/Gm
1 Kai Forbath, UCLA K JR 13 31 28 0.903 2.15
2 Leigh Tiffin, Alabama K SR 14 35 30 0.857 2.14
3 Grant Ressel, Missouri K SO 13 27 26 0.963 2
4 Dan Hutchins, Pittsburgh K JR 13 29 23 0.793 1.77
5 Hunter Lawrence, Texas K SR 14 27 24 0.889 1.71
5 Alex Henery, Nebraska K JR 14 28 24 0.857 1.71
7 Justin Kahut, Oregon St. K JR 13 27 22 0.815 1.69
7 Erik Soderberg, Air Force K SO 13 30 22 0.733 1.69
9 Joe Phillips, Utah K JR 12 22 20 0.909 1.67
10 Ian McGarvey, Ball St. K JR 11 21 18 0.857 1.64
10 Alex Carlton, Army K SO 11 24 18 0.75 1.64

 

With a few exceptions, that's almost like a Who's Not of college football. (Yes, that's an exaggeration. Leave me alone. I've gotten into a nasty argument with myself, and I lost.) Georgia and Oklahoma had great punters last year, but the teams weren't very good. Alabama and Texas had good field goal kickers, and if I wanted to lie to myself, they would make good anecdotal evidence that feet inevitably lead to BCS bowl games. But yeah, at least in 2009, having the best punters and kickers in the FBS didn't really mean teams won very much.

But here's the thing. You need to have a punter and a kicker, so you might as well have the two best guys in the nation, right? And Vol fans know from experience that punts can be some of the most purtiest things ever:

 

They can even win games:

 

Field goals, too, are kinda sorta important:

 

Forget the numbers, I could not be happier that we have landed the nation's best feet.

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