Miami Hurricanes punter Lou Hedley provides big advantage over Alabama

Aug 24, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA;: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 24, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA;: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Punter Louis Hedley is on the Ray Guy watch list and has been named a preseason All-American by numerous national media sites. The Miami Hurricanes set an FBS record last season averaging 44.96 net yards punting in 2020. Alabama struggled in 2020 averaging 38.0 yards per punt. The Crimson Tide finished 118th nationally.

Alabama split the time between two punters in 2020. The Crimson Tide are bringing in their own Australian punter in 2021, James Burnip. Asked about Burnip, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said “We’re not asking him to play football. We’re asking him to punt it.” Burnip is competing with American punter Ty Perine.

According to Canes Warning’s partner site Bama Hammer, Burnip is being developed to punt rugby and American style. Perine averaged 44.7 yards on 13 punts in 2019 to earn freshman All-SEC. Hardin was one of three punters Alabama used in 2019, but he did not have an attempt in 2020.

Alabama was relatively good in punt coverage. The Crimson Tide finished 28th nationally in 2020 allowing 4.4 yards per return. Only five of the 32 Alabama punts were returned in 2020. Alabama was 105th in net punting averaging 35.44 yards. That’s a 9.52-yard advantage in net punting to Miami in 2020

If Hedley and the Miami punt coverage team can continue to flip the field to nearly a 10-yard advantage, that’s nearly a first down every time the teams’ exchange possessions after a punt. Miami has to do a better job in 2020 on punt coverage despite setting the net punting record in 2020.

The Hurricanes allowed 7.38 yards per punt in 2020. That was 67th nationally. Alabama finished ninth nationally in 2020 averaging 14.95 yards per punt return. The Crimson Tide finished in the top 10 in long punt returns by nearly every metric. Most of those elite returns came from Heisman Trophy winner DaVonte Smith.

Smith was the Philadelphia Eagles 2021 first-round draft pick. Saban said Slade Bolden who had seven returns for 49 yards last season and freshmen, Miami native Jacorey Brooks and JoJo Earle are potential punt returners. Brooks and Earle are two of the top six WRs in the Class of 2022. Alabama signed three of the top six.

dark. Next. Miami punter Lou Hedley preseason All-American

Hedley has 35 punts inside the 20 during his Miami career. That comes out to 31.0 percent of Hedley’s punts inside the 20. In 2020, 24 of Hedley’s 46 punts forced a fair catch. That’s 52.17 percent of Hedley’s punts that forced a fair catch in 2020. Hedley’s performance against Alabama is critical.