With so much talk lately about the ineptitude of the football team’s offense, and how strong of a defense it has, I wanted to take the opportunity to praise an unsung hero.
He is a player that was ragged on so much as a freshman that no one thought it was possible he could do what he has done in the first four games. Brian Monroe has been just as valuable to this team as anyone on either side of the ball for the ‘Canes, and we rarely hear about it. The only time fans cry out a punter’s name is when he is doing a terrible job, as his name was called out a lot a year ago.
Punters and kickers are a lot alike. They are cut from a different cloth than the other positions on a football team. They have to have nerves of steel and be perfect 85 percent of the time in order to be considered good.
Monroe came in replacing Freddie Capshaw, who was well liked and respected by the Hurricane faithful, except for one punt against Florida State in 2002 that everyone will always remember. He struggled mightily last year, which everyone remembers well. If he wasn’t shanking it off the side of his foot, it was getting blocked, and if he wasn’t getting enough leg into it, it was a low line drive. He definitely didn’t handle the big stage the way we all wanted him to.
With field position such a critical part of the game for a team with a struggling offense, the special teams game was one the Hurricanes rarely won. Monroe averaged only 35.7 yards per punt last year, with a long of 56 yards. He only pinned teams inside the 20-yard line 11 times and had only three touchbacks. He didn’t just struggle; he really struggled.
This season, we rarely hear about Monroe because it is as if he woke up and remembered why Miami recruited him here to punt. Through the first four games, he is averaging 40 yards on his punts with a long of 60 and has already had 11 pins inside the 20-yard line.
It goes without saying that good punts lead to good defensive stands on the field, and it is not a surprise that with Monroe’s great numbers, the defense has great numbers. If he is able to pin an opponent inside the 20 two to three times a game, our defense will continue to be unstoppable. It’s not shocking that our defense has given up only one touchdown in four games.
Monroe went out and hired a personal coach over the summer, something that Head Coach Larry Coker was very proud of. We all knew he had better kicks in that leg. He showed it to us on kickoffs and in the pre-game warm up.
People say to me during games that Monroe “is due for a shank.” Not this Brian Monroe. This Brian Monroe will continue to do his job, to the point where he’ll continue to be an unsung hero on the 2004 Miami Hurricanes.
Doug Kroll can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.