Hawkeye vs. Scarlet Knight:
The last time these two teams faced off, it bore witness to an all-time quote about Adam Korsak and Michael Sleep-Dalton with Korsak’s exploits resulting in a singular award this site has given out as well as a delightful YouTube video:
Saturday night, we get our rematch.
The stats sell themselves but Adam Korsak is legitimately the best college punter I’ve ever seen. Last season, he set a record in net punting with 45.25 per boot. He hasn’t had a touchback in 136 punts! He’s got just five on his career! He rarely allows a positive return.
Where this ultimately impacts the game is by enabling two strong defenses with field position to buoy moribund offenses.
The resulting very-goodness in defensive field position allows for both Iowa & Rutgers to take advantage of the hidden yardage. Both teams are top 10 in starting offensive field position, which brings us to how they’ll counteract Taylor and Korsak.
Iowa, to their credit, have remained ardent in their desire to return punts as Arland Bruce IV leads the nation in total punt returns with 10. He’s tallied just 69 (nice) total return yards, for 6.9 per return. But his ability to get those yards are mitigated with Korsak’s excellence. And while Iowa has blocked two punts this season, AK hasn’t had one of his blocked during his career.
Rutgers will deploy Aron Cruickshank as their primary returner. The wideout has just two on the season (10.5 yard average) but has shown a propensity to break big ones in his career, with a return touchdown last season to balloon 19.1 yards/return in 8 attempts.
With Korsak’s ability to limit returns, whether Taylor is able to keep Cruickshank from impacting the game comes into view. We’re in for quite a treat on Saturday night as two of the best players are the ones kicking it away to opposing teams.
Punting, indeed, is winning.