I've been vocal on Twitter and here in my praise for Tyler Grassman's day Thursday evening in UB's 18-17 win against Kent State. I told you in the Good/Bad/Ugly post that his six punts inside Kent's 20 was a UB FBS-era record, but this was without a doubt the best game of Grassman's career. Digging further into the past, it may be the best in UB history.
Grassman is the latest in a line of solid UB punters. Ben Woods and Jake Schum both got looks into the NFL. No one at this position can control how often he punts, but Grassman's spectacular day came on a night when he punted eight times, a mark he's hit a half-dozen times in his career, but never like yesterday.
The senior put his first three punts inside the ten, his first five inside the twenty, and a career-high six overall inside the red zone while averaging 40.6 yards per kick. Plus, he added touchbacks on all four of his kickoffs. When Grassman touched the ball, Kent never started beyond the 25 and had only one return for two yards.
From a career perspective, Grassman passed Gerald Carlson for #2 all-time in UB career punt yardage, and is on the verge of a program record for single-season average punt yardage.
Grassman has put five punts into the red zone once before in his career, but in Buffalo's FBS history, that's only happened one other time. It might be the greatest half of special teams UB will ever have: Peter Fardon's ten-punt performance in the International Bowl, when the Aussie kicked ten times for a 43.5 yard average. The Bulls turned two of his kicks (plus a kickoff from Gerry McGroarty) into fumbles and short fields.
By raw numbers, Fardon's day was better by three yards a punt, and he got two more opportunities than Grassman this week. But he was kicking indoors and got some rolls on the Rogers Centre turf. Even so, it's the only punting day in at least 17 years to challenge Grassman vs Kent State.
Tyler's day looks even better when you look deeper. Buffalo 2015 doesn't have McGroarty, so Grassman also handled the kickoffs, putting all four into the end zone for touchbacks. He topped Fardon by one in two fewer opportunities, and the day somehow looks even better when you look at the two punts that weren't dropped inside the 20:
The first punt of the second half bounced on the four yard line and might have been downed if the Buffalo gunners played the bounce on a shorter hop. It was Grassman's fourth punt of the day that landed inside the ten. The lone punt of the fourth quarter was caught at the 21 and returned two yards. Only a hair's difference would have put that inside the 20.
In a field position battle, Grassman's punts become even more important. Kent State never started further upfield than their own 25, while Buffalo's average drive start was their own 35. Given how the final touchdown drives slowly ground their way upfield, every yard was massive in this one.
Six inside the 20, a record in its own right even with two further missing that distinction by a yard. Four for four on touchbacks from kickoffs. AJ Principe or Patrick Clarke may have had days with plenty of field goals, but for my money Tyler Grassman put down the best kicking performance in program history Thursday night.