Photo by Tammi Armstrong
Coming off last year's excellent performance, punter T.J. Grzesikowski struggled to put up the same numbers that won him the National Statistical Championship for DIII punting. Going into the season, many thought he would be the odds on favorite to repeat this feat. Favorite he was, but this is not an easy task to accomplish in the first place, much less repeat it. Adding to the difficulty, Ferrum had the 8th ranked rushing offense in the country. This would indicate that if the offense can move the ball, you may not be punting as often, or as far. It was the "short field" that I think reduced T.J.'s numbers. If you are punting for position, then the distance is not in play. It became more of an accuracy effort.
T.J. punted 5 fewer times in 2009. That may not seem like a lot less, but when you have a leg like T.J., its a huge amount. As an example, this year T.J. was ranked as high as 3rd in the nation for punting. This was early in the season, but by week 10, he had dropped to 39th in the nation, and there was no hope of repeating as National Champion. In the last game of the season, Grzesikowski punted five times for 263 yards. He landed 3 punts inside the twenty, and had three over 50 yards. One of them was 66 yards (His career longest as far as I can tell) These five punts took him from 39th in the nation to finish 12th, and took him from 3rd in the conference to 1st. With 5 additional punts...who knows? Great job T.J.,...I'm looking forward to next year already!