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Friday, October 16, 2009

Drew Butler has chance at Record

This Spring the Nations leading Punter, University of Georgia Punter Drew Butler came to Scottsdale, Arizona with his father Kevin for some One on One Punting Lessons.

Drew's father, Kevin is the former Chicago Bears kicker and the only college kicker in the College Hall of Fame to date.

Drew in just two days of lessons and drills really improved his punting technique. He went back home to Georgia for spring ball and improved but was not satisfied. He knew he could still improve even more.

So, this Summer he enrolled in Coach Zauner's three day PRO DEVELOPMENT CAMP in St. Paul Minnesota at Macalester College. Once again Drew received a lot of information and worked on all phases of his punting technique.

In my PRO DEVELOPMENT CAMP Drew worked on his getoffs, directional, and pooch punting technique and also his holding technique. We also addressed the mental side of the kicking game.


In the above photo Drew Butler (left) and Rob Maver (right) Canada's leading punter listen to Coach Zauner's instruction on the Aussie Drop Punt Technique.

Record within Butler's reach

By Marc Weiszer marc.weiszer@onlinathens.com Story updated at 10:07 pm on 10/15/2009

Drew Butler's punts in practice a year ago were a "50-50" proposition, according to Georgia coach Mark Richt.

He might wow with one kick and look so-so on another.
Now, midway through his first season holding down the Bulldogs' punting job, Butler has been rock steady.

The redshirt sophomore leads the nation with a 49.8-yard average, which is approaching rare territory.

Only one punter in the Bowl Subdivision has ever finished a season with an average of 50 or more yards per punt dating back to 1937, according to statistics kept by the NCAA.

LSU's Chad Kessler led the nation in 1997 with a 50.3 average.

Drew Butler might be next.

"That would be very awesome ," Butler said. "That would be a really cool thing to do and the fun thing about that is, I've got two more years left to go after this one, so hopefully we can just build off that."

Since 1980, a punter needed to average 3.6 punts per game to qualify for the NCAA statistics. There was no minimum from 1937-79.

Even in the Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA), the record average is 48.2 by Northern Arizona's Mark Gould in 2002.

"A 49-something average. I never thought of that. Drew's in a groove right now," said Kevin Butler, Drew's father and a former Georgia kicker who is in the College Football Hall of Fame.

"If he can hit him that far with the right hang time and a good operation. ... hey, more power to him, we're all for it," said assistant coach John Lilly, who oversees the punt team. "If not, I don't think he's going to sit there and worry about that."

Butler's main goal before the season was for Georgia to keep pace with the 37.5-yard net punting average that it had last year when it ranked fourth in the SEC. The Bulldogs top the nation in the category at 44.0 this season.

"It's relieving to see hard work and consistent performances in practice come into the field of play," Butler said. "It's felt good. Now, it's just a matter of keep doing it every week. This punt team has been playing at a championship level, and we're going to keep it that way. We're taking pride in what we do, and it's showing on the field."

Butler has gone from erratic to consistent after getting extra coaching this offseason in Arizona and Minnesota from Gary Zauner, a former NFL special teams coach who worked with Kevin Butler when he was with the Chicago Bears.

Coach Zauner with Chicago Bears Kevin Butler

Richt heard from one Georgia player that Butler and kicker Blair Walsh were on the practice fields nearly every day this summer. Butler worked to improve his drop, footwork and body position.

In the SEC, only Vanderbilt has punted more than Georgia's 29 times.

"I know the bottom line is he would not like to be punting as much and winning more games," Kevin Butler said. "I never would have thought I'd look in the paper this week and Duke would have thrown for almost 500 yards (against N.C. State), and the same weekend we couldn't get out of Tennessee alive."

Butler leaned towards going to Duke before he accepted a scholarship from Georgia in January 2007.

He backed up Brian Mimbs last season and kicked three pooch punts.

His first punt this season at Oklahoma State set the tone. It traveled 68 yards and was downed at the 2. His favorite: a fourth-quarter punt at Arkansas that went 64 yards and pinned Arkansas at its 8.

"It totally turned field position at a key moment," Lilly said.

Distance isn't everything. There's risk in outkicking your coverage and an opponent gets a big return.

Kevin Butler still holds the Georgia record for longest field goal of 60 yards against Clemson in 1984. Now, Drew is carving his own niche.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be Kevin's son," Butler said. "I love my dad. He's my best friend, but being able to do my own thing has been really cool. Not kicking, obviously, being a punter has helped. I think if I keep doing what I'm doing, hopefully people will know me and know my dad as Drew's dad."

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