When Jack Spicer first booted away a 38-yard punt early in the second quarter against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Saturday, it looked like an accident. The punter fired a line drive off his foot, which bounced down to Georgia Tech’s 19-yard line before it rolled dead.
After his second punt, it became clear the line drives are no mistake. Spicer’s second punt of the game came in the final two minutes of the first half, when the specialist kicked away from the Miami Hurricanes’ 46-yard line. The punt went only 25 yards, but bounced off a Yellow Jacket and Shaquille Quarterman recovered for Miami, giving the Hurricanes a critical takeaway just before halftime.
At the break, Mark Richt confirmed the new, unusual punting style is a strategy. In a halftime interview with WQAM, the coach acknowledged Miami’s struggles in the punting game and said special teams coordinator Todd Hartley proposed a new style, which allows for more chaos through bounces and, perhaps, deflections. Muffed punts, Richt said, are “one of the benefits.”
The Hurricanes have used multiple punters this year and neither has performed well. Punter Zach Feagles began the year as the starter and has punted 24 times for an average of 38.1 yards. He now splits time with Spicer, who entered the game averaging 38.5 yards per punt on 17 kicks.
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The muffed punt helped bail out Miami, which stalled due to penalties on the drive leading up to the punt. Miami took over at Georgia Tech’s 30-yard line and found the end zone three plays later when running back Cam’Ron Davis ran for a 22-yard touchdown. The score was the first of the freshman’s young career in a game the Hurricanes particularly needed him.
Davis ran for a team-high 29 yards on three carries in the first half.