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Kirk Ferentz says Iowa may stop returning punts

Kirk Ferentz says Iowa may stop returning punts

By Tom Fornelli | Staff Writer

Kirk Ferentz is tired of being beaten by fake punts
Kirk Ferentz is tired of being beaten by fake punts. (USATSI)

Kirk Ferentz has been running the Iowa football program for 15 years now, and over that time there have been plenty of jokes about his conservative nature on offense. Well, on Tuesday it seemed like Ferentz was making a joke about himself, but it turns out he wasn't kidding.

After giving up first downs on fake punts in games against both Northern Illinois and Michigan State this season -- as well as other times in the past -- Ferentz says his Hawkeyes may never again return a punt.

That's right, Ferentz is considering just sending a punt returner deep to catch the ball and do nothing else with it. Instead of sending blockers back to set up the return, the other ten players will remain at the line of scrimmage to keep the opponent from running a fake punt.

Which, honestly, just blows my mind.

I feel it's somewhat important to note here that Iowa is currently fourth in the nation in punt return average, and wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley is second in the country with 25.78 yards per punt return this season, and that includes two touchdowns.

Both of those touchdowns came in Iowa's victory over Western Michigan, but as far as I know, Western Michigan hasn't banned punting.

Seriously, I don't know if Ferentz is actually going to do this -- it's possible this is just a ploy to get teams to stop running fake punts -- but if he does I can't help but think it's idiotic. This is an Iowa team that scored only 18.5 points per game in conference play last season and through two Big Ten games this season is averaging 18.8 points per game. In other words, this Hawkeyes team has problems putting points on the board. But now Ferentz is willing to sacrifice field position -- and with it points -- just because teams have run a couple fake punts.

It's just not a logical response.

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