The old mantra at Iowa is that punting is winning. Love it or leave it, it’s a thing and it’s real.
In 2023, the Hawkeyes did a whole lot of both. Iowa finished the regular season at 10-2 with a second Big Ten West division title in three years. While the centerpiece of that winning season was undoubtedly the defense, a major role was played by the Iowa special teams unit.
The Hawkeyes have long looked to play a complementary style of football under head coach Kirk Ferentz, focusing on ball control and time of possession on offense with points being secondary. Priority number one has always been protecting the football and avoiding turnovers. In that sense, punting is quite literally winning. Protect the ball enough to get to fourth down and the defense can handle the rest.
In 2023, they certainly did.
And on fourth down, the real weapon of the Iowa offense emerged as Tory Taylor stepped onto the field and punted a nation’s most 86 times. The Melbourne, Australia native finished the year fourth in the nation and tops in the Big Ten with an average of 47.9 yards per punt. He launched a ridiculous 36 punts 50 or more yards with six booming more than 60 yards.
Of those 86 punts, 30 (35%) were downed inside the opponent 20 with 12 inside the ten yard line (14%) and six inside the five (7%).
Taylor set the Iowa single-season punt yardage record in 2023 with 4,119 yards thus far. This marks the third straight season he’s set a new single-season record. He now holds the Iowa career record for most punts and total punt yardage at 288 and 13,297 yards (for context, that would be ~7.6 miles of punt yardage) respectively.
For his efforts, Taylor was previously named the Eddleman-Fields Big Ten Punter of the Year and was selected 1st Team All-Big Ten and was a unanimous 1st Team All-American. On Friday night, he added one more accolade to his growing list as he was name the Ray Guy Award recipient as the nation’s top punter. He becomes the first Hawkeye to win the award.
Congratulations to Tory Taylor on an incredible season and remarkable career. We were all truly here for the punter.