Saturday, December 22, 2012

Why LSU's Suspension of Their Punter Matters

This week, word came down that LSU has suspended its starting punter Brad Wing from the Peach Bowl. Under most circumstances, losing a starting punter is not a big deal, especially when playing Clemson. However, Brad Wing is more than just a punter, he's a key component in LSU's gameday strategy and he's been a force on special teams, pinning teams well inside the 20. Plus, he's Australian, half crazy, and an emotional leader who plays with a ton of energy.

While most people say the only person sad about playing Clemson's defense is other team's punter, I think both punters will play a key role as I expect a low scoring game. At least for a while. The defenses each have over a month to prepare, which will limit the surprises, and it typically takes an offense a quarter to regain their rhythm. All said, the punter could be a major player as the teams battle it out for field position.  And if LSU not having Wing costs them 5-10 yards per punt attempt, that will eventually pay dividends for Clemson as they've been fantastic with good field position.

For LSU, Wing has been a major player as he has averaged nearly 45 yards per kick, dropped numerous punts inside the 20, and done a great job of limiting opposing punt returns (not that Clemson has shown any hint of a punt return game this year).  You could even argue he was their MVP in their regular season win over Alabama last year.

In addition, and this is the non-direct effect, LSU folks are saying he is suspended because of a failed drug test, and that this isn't his first. And neither is this LSU's first foray into the failed drug test market. Just last year, a group of players, including the Honey Badger, were suspended for synthetic pot, and again this year, Mathieu and Jordan Jefferson were arrested on drug related charges. So a second potential failed drug test by Wing on the heels of their previous issues will only bring more questions and distractions about the "culture" of the LSU program. And bowl games are all about being focused and limiting distractions, right Stephen Garcia?

So, the LSU punter is suspended. No big deal, right? Wrong. This is a major loss for LSU and will only bring unwanted attention to the LSU campus, which means you can move the special teams needle a little more towards Clemson's side.

And we'll take all we can get where we can get it.

Go Tigers, orange and purple kind!

Brad Wing's most infamous play:

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