More on the 49-yard Rob Maver punt I mentioned yesterday from Scott Cruikshank of the Calgary Herald – Stamps veteran gets kick out of pinning enemies deep in their own zone
Perhaps, he suggests, golf is the best comparison.
Which makes his latest display of precision the equivalent of a good swing. A very, very good swing.
“Like a really tight approach,” says Rob Maver. “Say you’re on a par four and, on the second shot, you stick it pretty close to the pin.”
Yes, just like golf.
But in front of a national-television audience; in front of a beer-fuelled gallery of 27,000; in front of a couple dozen of your best (red-clad and shoulder-padded) buddies, all of whom are counting on you.
Yes, just like golf.
But with a handful of hostiles only steps away, every one of them dying to rattle you, disrupt you, spoil your night. To slap aside your shot, if possible.
It’s enough to make a guy soil his Sansabelts.
But this is no country club.
And Maver is no hacker.
On this occasion – Friday at McMahon Stadium, fourth quarter of the Calgary Stampeders’ 36-22 triumph – his stroke is pure.
“It’s one of those plays that makes the highlight reel and it makes him feel good,” says Mark Kilam, special teams co-ordinator of the Stamps. “He’s just doing his part.”
Maver’s part was critical – a pitch-perfect punt, which jammed the guests on their own one-yard line.
Drifting rightward, the ball skipped sideways a foot in front of the end-zone pylon, which left the Winnipeg Blue Bombers staring at a long march and a short clock.
Bad for them.
Bully for the hosts.
(That the Bombers, rallying madly, had been permitted to drive to Calgary’s 20 is another matter.)
Hardly routine, Maver figures he’s plugged “five or six” into the coffin corner. His most recent ace arrived on his 502nd crack – in his 74th appearance as a punter – which is an indicator of how challenging it actually is. Especially when he considers himself “pretty fortunate” in this department.
“I mean, the field is so big and the one-yard line isn’t that big of a target.”
Kilam, sticking with the golf theme, points out that often required is “a member’s bounce.” Unlike golf, though, out of bounds can be your friend.
No one wants to see the ball boink through the end zone, which nets the kicking team a who-cares point and gifts the enemy a spot on the 35.
So what Maver accomplished?
Lovely, but a fine-lined dance.
“Rob’s been very good at that for many, many years – definitely one of his strengths,” coach Dave Dickenson says. “But I don’t think he’s aiming for the one. He’s lying if he’s telling you that.”
In that scenario, according to Kilam, the target is always the 12-yard line.
“Because you have some room for error,” says Kilam. “Everyone loves the one-yard punt, but our landmark is the 12 … it gives us a little wiggle room. If it goes out on the 17, it’s still better than the 35.”
Against the Bombers, Maver acknowledges that he may have cheated a tad. Feeling strong, he decided “a more aggressive” line was in order.
Officially, the ball travelled 49 yards.
“Just one of those times when I had a really good sight-line to the pylon and I said, ‘You know what? I’m just going to go for this one and try to stab it in there,’ and it worked out,” says Maver. “There’s some risk-reward every single time you try to go deep.”
And, even if the ploy makes the staff nervous, there is value.
The pay-off is grand.
“Look at what the opposing team has to do,” says Maver. “They have to go 109 yards. If you look at the statistics of a team scoring when they start at the one-yard line, they’re probably pretty low. I feel pretty good when I give (defensive co-ordinator DeVone) Claybrooks and his guys 100-plus yards to do their work.”
Friday’s sequence – ball deep, visitors buried, no return – is the punter’s equivalent of a walk-off.
Fans roared. Teammates back-slapped.
As for the man himself, let’s just say he was stoked to the extreme.
“He hates singles, right?” says Rene Paredes, Maver’s brother in boots. “He celebrates like it’s a touchdown. Kilam wants him to do that all the time – he emphasizes doing that. Maver’s very good at it. And every time he does it? He celebrates pretty well.”
Short of galloping in for a major, this is an ideal outcome for chaps in Maver’s racket.
There is no better alternative.
“It’s a big kick,” says Paredes. “Not a very easy kick to do, that’s for sure.”
Asked for a sporting comparable, the Stamps’ field-goal whiz drags the conversation back to the links.
“Like a chip in golf,” says Paredes. “You chip it 50 yards and you put it (one yard away), so you have a chance for birdie, right?”