Iowa Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz may forbid his team from returning any punts for the rest of the season.
The decision comes after giving up fake punts for first downs in Iowa’s only two losses of the 2013 season. Special teams gaffes against Northern Illinois and Michigan State came back to haunt the Hawkeyes.
After the MSU game, Ferentz hinted that he may be done sending blockers away from the line of scrimmage to help set up punt returns. At the time many believed he was simply poking fun at himself and his 15 years of conservative game planning. However, the Associated Press reports that Ferentz wasn’t kidding.
In the future, Ferentz may simply keep one man deep to signal fair catches and make sure the ball doesn’t hit the ground. The remaining players on his punt teams will remain at, or near, the line of scrimmage in an effort to deter fake punt attempts.
If this sounds like a bit of an overreaction, we’d venture to agree. CBS Sports points out that wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley is second in the country with 25.78 yards per punt return this season.
Iowa is averaging a mere 18.5 points per game, and Martin-Manley’s abilities as a returner serve as a very real offensive threat.
With a team looking for any sort of spark on offense, can Ferentz actually afford to give up such good yardage? We may find out when the team travels to Ohio State on Oct. 19, its next game on the schedule.