Inside The Play: Charles Walker's Punt Return

Drew Franklinabout 5 years


Aritcle written by:Drew FranklinDrew Franklin


charles-walker-88 Charles Walker's 64-yard punt return touchdown was one of the highlights of Kentucky's win over New Mexico State (and my adult life). It was an explosive special teams play the team needed and it was very critical for two reasons: 1) it put the game out of reach; and 2) it was the Cats' first return TD in six years, going all the way back to the Randall Cobb era in 2010. Tonight, I will break down Walker's long-awaited TD return for you in our first Inside The Play of the 2016 football season. And as someone who was on the ground floor of Walker's Heisman campaign and has watched the replay of the return over 450 times since Saturday night, I feel I'm the most qualified to dissect it. So let's get inside it. We'll start with how the punt team lined up: w1 As you can see, New Mexico State is lined up in what us football know-it-alls call a shield punt formation. This type of formation is only allowed in college football as the defensive linemen are spaced a little farther apart with seven players who, in theory, can make a block and get downfield in coverage, rather than relying on two gunners on the outside. It leaves three blockers to protect the punter. Together, all eleven will completely f*** up this one particular punt coverage, which is why we're here on this edition of Inside The Play. Moving on... w2 Walker fielded the punt at the 36-yard line -- a subtle tribute to college football's past, that almost went unnoticed. You see, New York City's Downtown Athletic Club's athletic director passed away in 1936. His name? John Heisman. Who's that? The man for which the Heisman trophy was named and awarded for the first time in 1936. #Walker4Heisman   w3 Four New Mexico State defenders surrounded Walker as he began his run toward pay dirt. Most punt returners would be dead meat here, but Walker is a playmaker, and what do playmakers do? They make plays. Watch as he turned a potential gang tackle into wide open space by simply taking four steps forward, as only he can do: wg1 Hey No. 4, where ya going there bud? wg2 Walker left him back there picking up change. w5 w6 Now for my favorite part... No. 47, the long snapper, got a wide open lane to deliver the hit stick to Walker. Defenders lick their lips over opportunities like this. Oh man this is good. w7 Unfortunately for your boy, this was when he realized the moment was too big for him and there is a reason his career is limited to long snapping in the Sun Belt. Watch him completely whiff on the seemingly easy takedown and then bowl through a pile of his own teammates to pick up the spare: wg3 wg4 That's now seven members of the coverage team in Walker's dust. Count 'em up. w9 But the fun didn't stop there. Oh no. Nico Firios killed a guy. w10 He gone. wg5 Poor little fella never stood a chance. Walker then cut it outside to get away from the decomposing body and three more oncoming defenders, who, like everyone else on New Mexico State's coverage team, skipped the chapters on tackling and angles in the football handbook. w11 It was a casual stroll to the end zone from there. (Because what the hell was that kicker going to do?) wg7 Touchdown, Kentucky. Welcome to the Heisman race, Charles Walker.

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