Day hoping to give Bulldogs better results in punting game

Tucker Day

Staff Writer

Tucker Day is looking to his past to help turn his future around.

Day, Mississippi State’s sophomore punter, knows he hasn’t performed as well as he or the Bulldogs had hoped this season. However the former U.S. Army All-American is determined to fix it. To do so, he’s going back to the way he used to do things after previously adopting a different style earlier this year.

“When I came (to MSU), I had my own style of punting that was different,” Day said. “It was a jab and two steps. I did that while (former Mississippi State punter) Logan Cooke was here and I was crushing it. I changed things up to fit this system and be faster. (Head coach) Joe Moorhead wants me to be so fast that people can’t get close to blocking me. I wasn’t consistently hitting a good punt at the speed they wanted me to be.

“(Special teams coaches Joey Jones, Allen Tucker and Chris Boniol) came up to me and said, ‘How can we help you crush the ball like you did all the time in fall camp?’ I said, ‘I’m just going to go back to how I punted in high school.’”

Day is hopeful that getting back to his roots will provide he and MSU better results in the punting game. So far this season, Day has punted 24 times with an average of 38 yards per punt. He has only pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line five times and he has only one punt greater than 50 yards.

Alongside fellow punter Kody Schexnayder, MSU’s punting has been next-to-worst in the Southeastern Conference in terms of average yards per punt. Out of all the SEC punters who qualify, Day’s average is the lowest individually in the league.

It’s not that Day doesn’t have great ability. He came to the Bulldogs as the No. 1 punter in the nation out of high school according to Chris Sailer Kicking. However to get back to that, Moorhead says much of it – for both Day and Schexnayder for that matter – comes down to consistency.

“(Last week’s game against Texas A&M) was another game where we didn’t win the field position battle,” Moorhead said. “That’s hidden yardage. I don’t want to put the onus squarely on the punting game, but you come out and see other teams hitting (punts) 50 yards and flipping the field. I think we are doing a really good job with the protection. I think we are doing a good job with the coverage. I think both (Day and Schexnayder) have shown flashes of where we need to be for kicking the ball and they are both very talented. At this point, I think it’s more of a consistency thing than anything. So we have to find a way to get the ball kicked over people’s heads and force them to fair catch it and not have little line drives. More than anything, it’s a consistency issue right now.”

Day believes getting back to his old style will be the salve to cure his issues. He’s already seen indications that he’s back on the right track.

“(Tuesday) at practice, they were telling me it was the best day they’d seen me have in a long time,” Day said. “I just went back to what I did. It’s muscle memory. I did it for four years in high school. That was four years of creating an image of everything I need to do in my mind as opposed to a semester of learning something new.”

Feeling a bit more like himself again, it’s likely Day will get the chance to get his career back on track this Saturday against Louisiana Tech. After being uncomfortable so far this season, he’s looking forward to going back to doing things the way he did them to get noticed in the first place.

“That’s what got me (to Mississippi State), so I wanted to go back to that,” Day said.