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'Weird' punter at K-State

Published on -9/26/2012, 10:59 AM

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Special to The Hays Daily News

MANHATTAN -- By his own admission, Ryan Doerr is a bit of a nerd.

It's not part of his job description per se, but it might as well be.

"Punters are weird," Doerr, Kansas State's senior punter said. "They remember every little detail of all their punts."

Of course they have plenty of time to dissect those details while most of their teammates are toiling away on the practice field. That is when they're not busy making up little games to help them hone their craft.

But for all their eccentricities, punters also can play a vital role, as was the case in K-State's 24-19 upset victory last Saturday at Oklahoma, when all five of Doerr's kicks pinned the Sooners inside their 20-yard line.

Two of them, with assists from the defense, led to Wildcat touchdowns.

"I take pride in it," said Doerr, whose performance against the No. 6-ranked Sooners earned him Big 12 special teams player of the week honors. "We get out there and practice quite a bit, exactly what we did last game, downing it inside the 20.

"I was pretty pleased."

So were the Wildcats, who by beating No. 6-ranked OU in their conference opener jumped from 15 to 7 in the latest Associated Press poll. They're off this week before playing host to Kansas on Oct. 6.

For all his success Saturday, Doerr wasn't 100 percent satisfied. He is, after all a punter.

"We have little weird memories and remember every little thing about each punt and how, 'Man, we messed that one up pretty bad,' " Doerr said. "Like my second punt (against the Sooners), I wasn't very happy with myself at all."

"I had the whole second half of the field to work with and I only got to the 18. Come on, that should have been inside the 10, easily,"  Doerr added.

That 28-yard punt really was the only lowlight for Doerr, who did leave the Sooners inside the 10 twice.

The final one, a 37-yarder fielded by teammate Curry Sexton at the 4 late in the third quarter, set up an interception that led to a go-ahead touchdown.

But his favorite came early in the second quarter, a booming 49-yarder to the Sooner 16.

"I was backed up quite a bit so I did get to kind of let loose and open it up and it got down the field pretty nice with (good) hang time," Doerr said. "It was a fair catch inside the 20, so I was pretty proud of that punt.

"That was definitely the highlight punt, then of course my last one that Curry caught on the 4-yard line, I liked that, too."

The 49-yarder was significant because three plays later Justin Tuggle sacked quarterback Landry Jones and forced a fumble that Jarell Childs scooped up for a touchdown.

"It's a huge weapon to be able to flip field position like that," quarterback Collin Klein said of Doerr's punting. "Give credit to that whole team and unit for helping Doerr out, too.

"He gets it up and out, but there's a lot of guys. It is a relief."

Though Doerr singled out his longest kick, he has become a bit of an expert at the pooch punt, dropping a shorter kick near the goal line. It has pretty much replaced the old coffin corner approach of kicking out of bounds inside the 20.

"We practice it every day out on the field and it's not the easiest thing to get down," Doerr said. "I think by keeping it in play you have more room to work with the ball and the field because you don't always know how the ball's going to bounce off the turf.

"You might get an even better bounce and down it on the 1 as opposed to kicking it out of bounds, and you're not always going to get the right call from the ref walking up the sideline."

Perfecting the pooch takes hours of work, Doerr said. Part of it is experimentation in game situations, but it isn't all drudgery.

"We'll try to punt and hit different parts of the stadium to work on accuracy and stuff," he said with a smile. "We call it punt golf and probably every punter in the nation ahs played it before.

"We'll get out there and the hole is the third trash can on the left over there across the field and par 3, OK. We'll hit it around the field and you're aiming at the trash can and trying to get close to it."

SRO tickets on sale

Kansas State announced Tuesday that a limited number of general admission tickets were made available for the sold-out Oct. 6 Sunflower Showdown against Kansas.

Kickoff is at 11:05 a.m. at Snyder Family Stadium and the game will be nationally televised by FX (Salina cable channel 31).

The tickets, priced at $75, will be located on the grassy hill in the northeast corner of the stadium and may be purchased online at k-statesports.com or by phone at 1-800-221-CATS while they last.

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