Sept. 16, 2009
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Editor’s Note The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Official Sports Report, an e-newsletter delivered daily to friends of the UI and fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes. To subscribe to this free service, click HERE.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — One important key to each of the Iowa Hawkeyes’ first two victories of 2009 has been the play of its special teams.
Obviously, the two plays that come to the forefront are the two blocked field goals by Broderick Binns and Jeremiha Hunter in the final seven seconds against Northern Iowa to preserve a 17-16 victory in the season opener. They established an NCAA record – two blocked PATs on consecutive plays.
What shouldn’t be overlooked has been the performance of Iowa’s punter Ryan Donahue. The native of Evergreen Park, Ill., has started the season where he finished the 2008 campaign. He has had two terrific outing, pinning the Panthers and, last week, the Iowa State Cyclones, deep in their own territory to win the field position battle.
Donahue has punted nine times through two games, with seven of the nine punts being downed inside the 20-yard line. He is well on his way of topping last year’s numbers when he placed 19 punts inside the defensive Red Zone.
Against Northern Iowa, the junior averaged 42.8 yards on five punts, including booming a 56 yarder. Four of the five kicks were downed on the four, eight, nine and 19 yard-line.
Not only is Donahue getting good distance with his punts, but his hang time has allowed the punt coverage team to get down field, which is one of the things that impressed UI Head Coach Kirk Ferentz after the Northern Iowa contest.
“Ryan, by far, was our top performer out there against Northern Iowa,” said Ferentz. “He performed extraordinarily well. He’s putting the ball where you want and he’s also getting great hang time. He played a fantastic game.”
“Ryan, by far, was our top performer out there against Northern Iowa. He performed extraordinarily well. He’s putting the ball where you want and he’s also getting great hang time. He played a fantastic game.”
UI Coach Kirk Ferentz
commenting on Ryan Donahue
Donahue stretched the field against the Cyclones, placing three of his four punts on the four, 14 and 15 yard line. He also had another punt over 50 yards, kicking a 57 yarder in the second quarter.
Hawkeye fans can pretty much expect Donahue to kick at least one punt over 50 yards a game. He has recorded at least one punt over 50 yards in 11 of the last 13 contests, dating back to last season.
Donahue is viewed as one of the nation’s top punters. He is once again on the Ray Guy Watch List after being a finalist for the award that recognizes the country’s top collegiate punter a year ago.
Ferentz says the team is looking for the all-Big Ten performer to continue his stellar play. “We are counting on him to continue to perform like he has been,” said Ferentz. “It’s a great weapon to have.”
Donahue already has his name etched in the Hawkeye punting record books. As a freshman in 2007, he established school records for punts in a single-season (86) and punt yardage (3,533). Furthermore, the 86 punts is a Big Ten single-season record.