Jake Hartbarger - The Punt Matters And He Doesn't Have Trouble With The Snap

Jake Hartbarger - The Punt Matters And He Doesn't Have Trouble With The Snap

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Jake Hartbarger - The Punt Matters And He Doesn't Have Trouble With The Snap

Heading into his fourth year as Michigan State’s punter, Jake Hartbarger is ready for a huge season.  And a year from now, he’ll need to be prepare to be busy on Sundays.

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Go ahead and chuckle about the importance of the punt.

Mark Dantonio sort of chuckled when he answered a great question about Jake Hartbarger at Big Ten Media Days this week – but Dantonio’s chuckle was the sort of chuckle that said he was laughing with his punter.

“It’s the single most important play in any football game.  It controls field position, has a huge impact on a team’s play selection and strategy, and, more than any other play, it dictates the flow and course of a game.  And Jake Hartbarger is ready for a big season.”

Dantonio went on to speak in granular detail about Jake Hartbarger both from the perspective of his performance on the field and the type of guy he is.

Do all head coaches talk for several minutes about minute elements of the punter’s personality and mechanics that have made him a key player as Michigan State enters the 2018 season with massive expectations?

“Jake has a big leg, he’s calm and collected back there, he’s a pretty calm guy.  His teammates really like him.  That helps when he’s back there and guys are coming at him.  He has confidence and he knows what he needs to do in every situation.”

Perhaps the UMAA coaching staff might have considered some more specific focus and attention on their punting game when all that was needed to secure a relatively important victory against one of their non-rivals in 2015 was a basic punt.

You think punting is just something that sort of has to happen every now and then in a game?

The “punt” – or lack thereof – mattered here:

Back at Big Ten Media Days, Dantonio spoke some more about Hartbarger and the overall dynamics of the punting game:

“I saw some stat from last year – we had the most punts that rolled into the endzone or something like that.  That’s not Jake’s problem – that’s something that we are working on with our punt team – making sure we are underneath Jake’s kicks so that we can pin them back and not let his high, booming kicks roll into that endzone.  That can make a huge difference – we’re working on it.”

That’s a good example of how and why this football program is a winner.

Meaningful time spent at Big Ten Media Days addressing the punter, the punt coverage strategy and execution, and the punter’s personality.

Michigan State’s coach does that.

Obviously, not all coaches do.

Jake Hartbarger has earned his spot on the Ray Guy Award watch list – and he’s going to earn that status all season long.

And it’s a safe bet that Hartbarger won’t have trouble with any snaps with the game on the line.

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