Has Kirk Ferentz been scarred by fake punts?
Michigan State executed a fake for a 25-yard gain against Iowa on Saturday, the second time the Hawkeyes have fallen for a fake this season and the sixth time since 2010. After the game, the Iowa coach said that he was considering never setting up a punt return again.
And he was actually serious.
“If you pressed me today, I’d say we may never try to return a punt again,” Ferentz said during his weekly press conference Tuesday. “To do that, to block guys, you have to turn and go with those guys to shadow them. When you do that, you open the door. Michigan State did a good job of taking advantage of that."
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“What helped us a couple of weeks ago, we paid for on Saturday. It cost us a field goal and a possession. So yeah, I may be leaning toward the point where you never try to see us return one again. Just fair catch it and try to keep it off the ground.”
The help that Ferentz is talking about came from Kevonte Martin-Manley and his two punt returns against Western Michigan. But Western Michigan is one of the worst teams in the FBS. That shouldn't be considered a representative sample of what Iowa's special teams can achieve.
Is one of the most conservative game-management coaches in college football starting a revolution? Probably not. It's hard to envision a "no punt return" strategy catching on. It is possible to set up a punt return without selling out completely. That seems like it will end up being the way Ferentz goes with his team. One missed tackle is all it takes to break a punt return.
Or maybe all Iowa needs to do is play Kansas to regain its punt return confidence.
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