Alabama Football: Crimson Tide punting woes and possible solutions


Alabama football has a punting problem and it is no small issue. What are Nick Saban’s options to solve the Tide’s punter dilemma?

Traditional theories of how to win college football games may no longer apply to high-octane offenses like the one wielded by Alabama football. Perhaps, no longer does defense win championships. Could it also be true, field position and thereby net punting yards are less important?

Whatever the answer to the question, all Alabama football fans are concerned about the Crimson Tide not having a consistent punter. Any fans who believe defenses no longer win championships, also believe the lack of enough defense can lose championships. The same can be surmised for punting. In a tight game between two evenly matched teams, net punting yards and field position could be the difference.

Alabama football is No. 113 in the FBS in net punting with an average of exactly 35 yards. Punt coverage is not the problem. The Tide’s primary punter, Skyler DeLong is averaging 33.9 yards per punt. The NCAA lists the individual punting stats of 98, FBS punters. No. 98 on the NCAA list averages 35.5 yards. The acceptable standard of a 40-yard average has been reached by 84 of the 98 punters listed by the NCAA.

What can Nick Saban do?

Saban has tried to exhibit confidence in DeLong, saying the young man does well in practice. How much longer can the Tide hope DeLong will, at some point, suddenly shed whatever holds him back in games?

True freshman placekicker, Will Reichard could permanently replace DeLong. Reichard was also a high school punter. His three college punts have averaged 39.7 yards for the Alabama Crimson Tide. There is concern voiced by Nick Saban that using the true freshman for all placekicking and punting might wear his leg down before the end of the season. Reichard is also recovering from a hip flexor injury, though he might be available against Texas A&M.

Alabama football has three punters and four placekickers on its 2019 roster. Nick Saban says there is a current punting competition in Tuscaloosa. Redshirt senior, Mike Bernier was last season’s fill-in for DeLong and Bernier averaged 38 yards on 25 punts.

Nick Saban has another, true freshman option. He is Jack Martin, who is on the roster as a preferred walk-on. Check out this assessment of Martin from the Sailer Kicking Academy.

"Jack is a very talented high school punting prospect. He is great looking athlete with a powerful leg. The lefty has the ability to hit a big ball and his consistency continues to improve each time we see him. With continued hard work, he will be a special college player."

Check some of Martin’s high school highlights.

Based on those highlights, Jack Martin might be the (young) man Alabama football fans are wanting.

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How much are Alabama football fans worried about the Tide punting woes? More than a little and the worry will grow considerably when the season reaches November.