After booming six of his seven punts at least 50 yards in Saturday's win against South Carolina, Florida punter Kyle Christy is raking in the accolades.
Christy's average of 54.3 set a new single-game school record, and it boosted his season average up to 47.49, which leads the nation. In recognition of his performance, the Southeastern Conference named Christy the Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday.
Christy's net average of 44.24 also leads the nation, and it's that number that he said special teams coach D.J. Durkin is most concerned with.
"We put a lot of value just on net punt," Christy said Saturday. "Hangtime is really important, but it's obviously got to go far, too. A lot of times coach Durkin would rather have a really high, somewhat short punt than a line drive because that gives them the chance to return it."
With the offense stalled inside its own 20, Christy's first punt went for a season-long 62 yards and helped Florida flip the field position. Just a sophomore, Christy already has 24 punts of longer than 50 yards, and coach Will Muschamp has described him with words such as "gamechanger," "weapon" and "phenomenal."
"Again, he’s been outstanding for our football team this year," Muschamp said. "He’s a been a guy that’s flipped the field, created momentum, hung some punts up there and our coverage was outstanding again in the whole coverage units, whether it was kickoff or punt."
Thanks in large part to Christy's leg, Florida was able to keep South Carolina's dynamic return man Ace Sanders in check. Sanders attempted to return two of Christy's seven punts but only managed 1 total yard. Sanders was under pressure on each attempt, and he fumbled in the second quarter to set up Florida's second touchdown. In all, only three of Christy's seven punts were returned for a total of minus-13 yards.
Still, for all his talent, Christy is not used to the attention his play this year has garnered. Surrounded by reporters after Saturday's win, Christy was noticeably uncomfortable. I asked him if he was more nervous talking to the media than he is when facing the rush before letting off a punt, and he answered with a resounding "yes."
"Is that bad? It's probably not good," he said, laughing. "I'm not used to this (the attention). I'm used to that (the pressure of the rush)."