On Saturday Max Duffy will play in his final contest before the punter heads to Atlanta for the Ray Guy Award ceremony, given each year to the nation’s top punter. It’s his second season at UK, but he still hasn’t taken a snap against UofL. The Cats did not have to punt at Cardinal Stadium in 2018. Still, Duffy knows what’s at stake in the season finale at Kroger Field.
“I probably don’t understand as well as people from Kentucky, but we have a rivalry back home in our Perth state between the two Perth teams,” said Duffy. “I just try to see it like that I guess. There’s no love lost between the two teams.”
Max Duffy’s personal Governor’s Cup was the Western Derby. The rivalry between the West Coast Eagles and Duffy’s Fremantle Dockers is notoriously nasty.
“There’s been a lot of fights, similar to here. Both teams don’t like each other much. Growing up you had to like one or the other in the state. I preferred Fremantle, the team that I actually ended up getting drafted by, so that was lucky because I don’t know if I’d be able to play for the Eagles.”
Duffy isn’t exaggerating when it comes to fights. The 2000 Western Derby became known as the “Demolition Derby” when the game began with blows and finished in dramatic fashion.
That game wasn’t as nasty as the brawl that broke out in 2018 when a player’s teeth were knocked out by a haymaker. It took quite a bit of time to separate the teams after the cheap shot cleared the benches.
Duffy does not plan on throwing any haymakers this weekend. He does not plan on kicking any field goals either, however, he’s hit enough drop kicks that if Stoops is willing to gamble on his punter instead of his place-kickers, Duffy will be ready.
“It’s a little different. The way that I punt is the way that we pass. When it hits the ground first I can do that. I don’t think the coaches would trust me enough to let me do it but I can do it. I was going it sometime pregame just to have a bit of fun,” he said. “I’d be willing to give it a shot if Stoops wants to let me.”
Duffy will cross that bridge when he comes to it. The same applies for the NFL. At the beginning of the season he stated rather matter of factly that he’s not good enough to punt at the next level. Even after leading the nation with 48.89 yards per punt, he’s still not convinced he would make it in the NFL.
“There’s way better guys than me. We still mainly do the Australian-style roll out, which they don’t do in the NFL. I’m just happy that I’m doing well here and I’m looking forward to next year here. Hopefully we can build on what we’ve done because it has been a successful year for us. We’ve come a long way from last year. Hopefully I can build on that and we can get even better next year.”