Mark Krause punted the football four times for 157 yards in last year's season opener against Missouri State, which sounds pretty terrible at first glance. But his first two punts went for 43 and 44 yards respectively, with no return, when Kansas State was leading only 3-0 in the first quarter.
His next two punts were both inside the 20, although admittedly a 29-yard punt downed at the 19 is not exactly impressive. Still, I'd like to think this small sample size could show us the makings of a decent punter with the potential to be great.
Apparently Krause punted the ball 80 yards once while at Missouri Southern, which is absurd and also makes it even more concerning that he only averaged 37.5 yards per punt that season. Really, the key here might just be whether he puts in the work to become an excellent punter, which isn't something that happens overnight.
As an intramural flag football punter for one season in college whose counterintuitive but factually accurate graph of more team success when punting more was completely ignored, I can appreciate the fact that it's extremely difficult to have your foot strike the ball the same way every time. Even just the drop can have serious variations, which is why you'll see punters walking around just dropping the football repeatedly at practice.
In the end, though, consistency is really all Krause needs to achieve in order to become an above-average, or maybe even an exceptional punter. We learned last year just how valuable that can be, even if Ryan Doerr got robbed by only getting Honorable Mention recognition from the Big 12.
If K-State has a season like last year when only two games were decided by 10 points or less, maybe they could get away with having a punter who occasionally shanks kicks and doesn't prove reliable in pinning opponents deep in their own territory. Sometimes it won't really make a difference.
But it's worth noting that in Kansas State's 6 wins by a touchdown or less in 2011, Doerr averaged nearly 43 yards per punt on 33 punts. He also got 5 inside the 20, including one downed at the 1 against Missouri that led to the game-winning touchdown on a 36-yard drive.
Then again, Doerr kicked 4 punts for 157 yards against Miami with a touchback and no punts inside the 20. That's not even as good as Krause's first game, right? Full circle.