There were a lot of impressive performances in Kentucky’s win over Toledo — DeAndre Square, Brandin Echols, Bryce Oliver, and Kavosiey Smoke, to name a few — but no player was more dominant than Max Duffy. The 27-year-old Aussie was a weapon on special teams, punting six times for an average of 54 yards, the second-highest single-game average in school history (min. 5 punts) behind Bill Hawk vs. Tennessee on Nov. 23, 1991 (56.5 yards per punt).
Watching Duffy boot the ball down the field, you couldn’t help but recall Steve Spurrier’s famous line from 2011, “Kentucky’s got a heck of a punter,” except with Duffy, it’s not a backhanded compliment; his punting is an added bonus, not just a saving grace. Last season, his first at Kentucky, he averaged 44.8 yards on 60 punts; after Saturday, that average is up to 45.62, which is on pace to top Glenn Pakulak’s career average of 44.43 from 2000-02 (134 punts). He’s also on track to break the single season average punting record. He finished last season third behind Pakulak (2002: 45.58 yards per kick) and Tim Masthay (2008: 45.23 yards per kick).
To celebrate the return of Punter U, let’s dive deeper into Duffy’s performance.
Five of the six punts were 53 or more yards
Raise your hand if you thought he was going for a fake on the first one:
The one that wasn’t was downed on the three-yard line
That must be what Dean Hood dreams of at night.
The longest was 61 yards
That’s the fourth longest in his career behind a 63-yard punt at Texas A&M and 65- and 67-yard punts in the Citrus Bowl vs. Penn State.
After Duffy’s punts: 0 points for Toledo, 24 for Kentucky
The punt chart is impressive:
- 55 yards, Toledo began on 20 and punted, set up UK touchdown
- 56 yards, Toledo began on 13 and punted, set up UK touchdown
- 46 yards was downed at 3-yard line, set up end of first half
- 53 yards, Toledo began on 29 and fumbled, set up UK field goal
- 53 yards, Toledo began on 17 and punted
- 61 yards, Toledo began on 33 and punted, set up UK touchdown
He leads the SEC after Week 1
Right now, Duffy leads the SEC in average yards per punt and longest punt:
|1. Max Duffy||Kentucky||6||324||61||54.00|
|2. Zach Von Rosenberg||LSU||3||155||53||51.67|
|3. Harrison Smith||Vanderbilt||7||330||54||47.14|
|4. Mac Brown||Ole Miss||5||234||54||46.80|
|5. Arryn Siposs||Auburn||6||270||49||45.00|
|6. Tommy Townsend||Florida||3||134||50||44.67|
|7. Braden Mann||Texas A&M||3||130||55||43.33|
|8. Joseph Charlton||South Carolina||5||216||59||43.20|
|9. Tucker McCann||Missouri||4||172||58||43.00|
|10. Sam Loy||Arkansas||4||142||40||35.50|
*Qualified players only
Duffy is second in the country in average yards per punt behind Arizona State’s Michael Turk (63.0 yards). On Saturday, he became the fifth different SEC punter since 2000 to average at least 54 yards per punt in a single game (min. six punts), and the first to do so since Florida’s Johnny Townsend vs. Georgia on Oct. 28, 2017. Last night on his call-in show, Mark Stoops was asked if he thought Duffy was the best punter in the SEC.
“I haven’t seen them all yet, but he certainly could be. The LSU and A&M guys are good, very talented. But Max did a phenomenal job, I think the average field position was the 19-yard line [on his punts]. Shoutout to Coach Hood, because in the hidden yardage category in special teams, we were plus-76 overall. Pretty strong statistic.”
“A different dude”
Duffy is one of a growing number of Australian punters in college football, and Kentucky’s second following Matt Panton. Last year, he was on the watchlist for the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the top punter in the sport. Four of the last five Ray Guy Award winners have been Australian, and Duffy could be next. At age 27, he’s got a different perspective than most players on Kentucky’s roster, which Stoops said helps him keep his composure.
“Definitely, yeah, you can’t phase him. ‘Yeah, coach,’ you know, he’s not real worried about anything. I mean that in a good way, like he cares a great deal, he loves the team and he cares, but he, yeah, he’s a different dude, you know?”
Plus, he likes the wings at KSBar, so he’s got great taste to boot.