Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
It’s now 54 days until kick-off against North Dakota State, and with 54 we transition away from player spotlights and to Ryan Doerr’s longest punt of 2012 – 54 yards. And although Doerr was a 2012 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention and signed as an undrafted free agent to Denver, his seeming lack of leg strength begs the question of whether the Wildcats can upgrade at the position this year.
There’s no denying what Doerr did during his four years of eligibility – and that’s start four straight years. However, he only averaged 41 yards over those four years (41.2 freshman, 41.3 sophomore, 40.8 junior, and then 41.0 his senior year). His 41-yard average this year ranked 72nd nationally. However, average punt doesn’t tell the full story – a team like K-State that consistently drove the ball this year often left Doerr with a shorter field. Punts inside the 20 (15/41) and fair catches (19/41) are better indicators in this instance.
However, we can’t escape the fact that 54 yards was his longest of the season – that tied Doerr for 133rd nationally, as one of Baylor QB Nick Florence’s two kicks matched his longest punt. The question is, is there a strong leg to replace him? It appears redshirt junior Mark Krause is likely to take Doerr’s punting responsibilities, and just may be the man for the job. He’s strong, becoming a two-time NASA Powerlifting National Outstanding Lifter in high school, although I don’t think that’s the type of ‘strong’ you were asking about.
Krause had four punts last year, with two dropped inside the 20 and two that were fair caught while averaging 38.5 yards and a long of 44 – leading us to the same debate of accuracy versus demonstrated strength. Krause transferred from Missouri Southern, where he only averaged 37.5 yards. However, 21 percent of his punts landed inside the 20 yard line and he had a long of 80 before leaving after his freshman year to come to the DI level.
Doerr was great at what he did during his career at K-State. He was the Big 12 special teams player of the week after dropping all five punts inside the 20 against Oklahoma last year, and that may have been the difference in the 24-19 victory in Norman. However, I’m excited to see what Krause can do as the team appears to left in capable, er, feet.
To work backwards in the countdown, visit Day 55, where we examine sophomore stud Cody Whitehair.