Iowa will need improved production from punters in 2018
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Punting it has to be better than last year — Ron Lilly
ANSWER: No doubt about it. Ground acquisition teams such as Iowa need a solid punting game, and the Hawkeyes didn’t have it last year. Iowa ranked 114th nationally with a 38.6-yard per punt average. The Hawkeyes managed 15 punts inside the 20-yard line (117th nationally), while their opponents parked 31 punts inside the 20.
The Hawkeyes had a good situation in 2016 with graduate transfer Ron Coluzzi, who averaged 41 yards per punt. Last year, the Hawkeyes’ competition was between walk-on Colten Rastetter and scholarship freshman Ryan Gersonde. Rastetter struggled to get lift on his kicks and lucked into some decent rolls just to average 37.8 yards per attempt. That failed to crack the nation’s top 100 or the Big Ten’s top 12.
Gersonde, who comes from Milwaukee, shed his redshirt for a few games midseason and connected for a 42.5-yard average. But Gersonde sustained an injury that prevented him from punting the rest of the way. Rastetter finished the season as a rugby-style punter, but that is not a long-term strategy for the position.
Entering this spring, Gersonde is slated as the starter. If he is healthy, Gersonde has a chance to become an asset for the Hawkeyes. The 6-foot-4 Gersonde has good extension and can punt for distance and location. He also is a good athlete, which helps.
On many of Iowa’s best teams, the punter was a weapon. A good one forces an opponent to gain one more first down every possession. That is vital against a bend-but-don’t-break style of defense such as the one Iowa employs.
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