Flipping Field Position

Oct. 9, 2011

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — One of the student-athletes applauded most by University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz after games this season is punter Eric Guthrie.

That was again the case Saturday after Guthrie punted four times for an average of 39.5 yards with half of those landing inside the Penn State 10-yard line.

Eric Guthrie punted well (Saturday),” Ferentz said. “He had two punts that Penn State had to start possession inside the 10-yard line and inside the 5. Those are every bit as important as a lot of things.”

The Hawkeyes slipped in their Big Ten Conference season-opener, 13-3, against the Nittany Lions, but once again Guthrie turned in a favorable effort.

Fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes will once again have the opportunity to “stripe” historic Kinnick Stadium for the enjoyment of a prime time television audience Saturday when Iowa entertains Northwestern on BTN.

If you’re going to Kinnick, the same rules apply: Even numbered sections wear GOLD, odd numbered sections wear BLACK, and UI students in the student section wear BLACK.

Go Hawks!

His first boot of the game was a 23-yard average-killing pooch, but it forced Penn State’s Justin Brown into a fair catch at the Nittany Lion 10. Then, with more room, and punting from his own 20, Guthrie received a kind roll on a 49-yarder that was downed at Penn State’s 31.

After Iowa’s opening drive of the second half stalled at its own 25, Guthrie hit another 49-yarder that was fair-caught by Derek Moye at the Penn State 26. Saving his best for last, Guthrie booted a 37-yarder that was downed at the Nittany Lion 4.

“It was disappointing that we lost,” Guthrie said. “I still haven’t put together a complete game — I got lucky with one roll. For the most part, I thought special teams did a good job. It flipped field position and they had to put together some long drives.”

Thanks to Guthrie and the coverage team, the Hawkeyes won the net-yards-per-punt statistic against Penn State, 39.5 to 32.6.

Unfortunately for Iowa, Penn State answered with some of its finest moments following superb Guthrie kicks. After the thing of beauty that was downed at the 4, the Nittany Lions went on a 12-play, 90-yard series that was halted by a Micah Hyde interception in the end zone. After the Guthie punt that was downed at the 10, Penn State went 88 yards on 18 plays and took a 3-0 lead on a 20-yard field goal by Anthony Fera.

“When you’re playing good football, those are the situations you handle,” Ferentz said. “To Penn State’s credit, they took and drove the ball with a long field and that’s the difference between winning and losing.”

“It gave our defense a chance,” Guthrie said. “(Penn State) had to put together some long drives and they were able to do that — that’s a credit to them.”

For the season, Guthrie has punted 19 times for an average of 43.7 yards. Eight of his kicks have landed inside the 20, seven have been fair-caught and three have been for 50 or more yards.

Guthrie, a native of Nevada, Iowa, waited patiently for his turn on the playing field, serving as an understudy to Ray Guy Award finalist Ryan Donahue — now with the NFL’s Detroit Lions — since 2007. Guthrie redshirted in 2007 and did not play in 2008 or 2009. He saw his only action of the 2010 season with a 32-yard punt against Iowa State.

“It’s been a five-year process,” Guthrie said. “I came in and tried to develop and get ready for this year. I knew it was probably my one year to play and I tried to come out and improve every day.”

Saturday’s crowd of 103,497 was the largest Guthrie has played before. He passed the test and not a single one of his punts was returnable.

“It’s pretty special,” Guthrie said of the setting at Beaver Stadium. “It’s a great college football environment and it comes down to focusing. You have to block all that out.”