One of the biggest complaints from the 2018 Iowa football season was how bad the punting game was. To compete in 2019, the Hawks must fix this issue.
All you had to do was watch one game of the 2018 Iowa football season before realizing the punting game was absolutely terrible.
Redshirt junior punter Colten Rastetter just wasn’t getting it done in a year where he averaged just 38.9 yards per punt using an increasingly common (in college) rugby style punt, which has its own set of issues. While it gives the special teams unit more time to make it down the field, it lends itself to a few more issues like shanked punts or like what happened against Mississippi State. Late in the first quarter with the Hawks on their own 35-yard line, Rastetter punted the ball about 8 feet above the ground and it was picked out the air by the Bulldogs. The net total of that punt?
It gave Mississippi State fantastic field position and they would eventually go on to kick a field goal to make the game 6-0.
While that happened just once this season, it was just the icing on the cake. Rastetter’s average of 38.9 yards per punt was actually an increase of nearly a yard from his sophomore season. Yet, it still ranked as one of the worst averages in the nation. The 38.9 yard average ranked 112th out of 124 qualified punters.
For an Iowa football program that relies on sound fundamentals, minimizing mistakes, and taking care of business on defense and special teams, this is absolutely unacceptable.
Fortunately, there may be help on the way.
Hawkeye Nation’s Rob Howe reported that Arizona State punter Michael Sleep-Dalton is interested in transferring to the Iowa football team as a graduate transfer.
This would be quite the improvement on the current state of Iowa’s special teams unit. Sleep-Dalton averaged 43.8 yards per punt as a junior for the Sun Devils. For context, this yards per punt average is nearly five yards better than Rastetter’s and ranked 26th in the nation this past year.
If for some reason Sleep-Dalton doesn’t ultimately transfer to the Iowa football program, there is some hope behind Rastetter. Sophomore Ryan Gersonde has performed well in limited opportunities, averaging 42.5 yards per punt on 13 punts in 2017.
Whatever the ultimate outcome is, I just want to see the punting game get fixed whether that’s Rastetter showing drastic improvement from a disappointing junior season or Sleep-Dalton coming over as a graduate transfer or sophomore Gersonde getting more chances next year.