/As Ray Guy once did, Saints’ Morstead sends game-controlling punts seemingly into orbit

As Ray Guy once did, Saints’ Morstead sends game-controlling punts seemingly into orbit

That has been my answer for nearly 50 years. I remember Guy punting almost every Saturday back in the 1970s when Guy was playing at Southern Miss. His booming, high-altitude spirals that soared well above the press box were what made him a master at controlling football games. Ray Guy was the one who invented the term “hang time”. Now, almost half a century later, my answer has changed. Greatest punter I ever saw? Ray Guy and Thomas Morstead. I can no longer choose between these two. It’s hard to believe that Morstead is now in his 11th season with New Orleans Saints. He was drafted in the fifth round by SMU in 2009. My reaction was the same as it was then: “What?” They used a fifth-round pick to draft a punter, as bad as the Saints defense is. Oh my goodness, I was wrong. Aren’t the Saints happy they did? When he can, Morstead controls football games. He makes your defense better. He did exactly that Sunday, when Drew Brees-less Saints defeated the Seahawks by 33 to 27. Teddy Bridgewater, who replaced Brees, was a good quarterback. Alvin Kamara, Saints’ running back, was undoubtedly the best player in the game. Morstead was the most valuable player, as he reminded everyone how important a good punter can be. Morstead averaged 54 yards per punt over six punts. The Saints averaged 52 yards per punt, with six punts returning 12 yards. Seattle punter Michael Dickson, on the other hand, averaged 41.3 yards per punt, returning a total 53 yards. This is a net punting average below 30. The Saints averaged more than 20 yards per punt. This was a huge difference in a tight and difficult game. Morstead flipped the field when he had the chance. Morstead can stop a punt in the same way a pro on the PGA Tour can spin a wedge shot. Four of Morstead’s six punts were within the Seahawks’ 20 yard line. The perfect example was in the second quarter when the game was tied at 7. At that point, the Saints had to punt from their 34. Morstead boomed a 64 yarder from the Seahawks’ 5-yard line. Then, he bounded out of bounds at 2. That is what football old-timers call a “coffin corner puncher.” However, few people have ever attempted a coffin corner kick so far away. Ray Guy used to do this. Morstead’s next punt was 54 yards long and was lost at the Seattle 3. That was what we used to see every Saturday at Southern Miss. P.W. The late P.W. Tech flagged USM for not lining up correctly, and so Tech made Guy kick it again. Guy punted 60 yards to the end zone. However, USM was flagged again. Tech forced Guy to kick it again. Next punt It was 64 yards long and went out of bounds at Tech 1. This was not the first time Guy did this. Ole Miss’ 93-yard punt actually traveled 110 yards. He also kicked a 61 yard field goal during a snowstorm at Utah State. He still holds the Southern Miss record for pass interceptions. Guy was a great all-round athlete and also punted. Morstead is the same. As a rookie, Morstead was my favorite punter since Ray Guy. Guy was his idol, he told me. Morstead called Guy the “greatest” person he had ever met. Although I was supposed interview Morstead, he kept asking me questions regarding Guy. I talked to him about the 93-yard punt, the 61-yard field-goal and Guy’s brutal tackle on a middle-field pass. I also told him about Guy pitching no-hitters in baseball, and how he reached a par-5 of 530 yards with a driver & a sand wedge. Later that afternoon Morstead was playing on the Saints practice fields while his teammates scrimbled. Morstead dropped-kicked the ball after getting so tired of punting it. He dropped-kicked a 51-yard field-goal from 55 yards on his second attempt. Guy did not do this, but I don’t think he would have been able to.