While many predicted that Purdue would be 1-3 a third of the way through the 2013 season, few expected that the Boilers would look as bad as they have in three of the four games. Blowouts at the hands of Cincinnati and Wisconsin and a lackluster win over FCS-level Indiana State have led many to believe that the rebuilding process is not going as well as we had hoped. There are open questions about who should be playing quarterback and even if coach Hazell is the right man for the job, but at least one player is shining.
Senior punter Cody Webster has been absolutely outstanding for the Boilers, doing everything in his power to help Purdue by performing as one of the best punters in the nation. Out of 23 total punts on the year Webster is averaging 45.7 yards per kick. He has a long of 73 yards, which led to a fumble that set up the first touchdown of the season, and he has already put nine of his punts inside the 20. On Saturday, he perfectly punted one out of bounds at the five yard line, but the defense gave up a 95-yard driver right after it.
Nationally, Webster is among the best at his position and could become Purdue's first Ray Guy Award winner since Travis Dorsch in 2001. Purdue is currently fifth nationally in net punting yardage at 44.8, and these numbers are greatly skewed as UCLA is No. 3 nationally with only three punts and Navy leads with one punt of 56 yards.
As for Webster himself, his 45.7 yards per kick is 16th best nationally. He also ranks 16th nationally in terms of total punts, which is a sign of how much the Purdue offense is struggling. His 1,051 yards on those 23 punts ranks 11th nationally. Among automatic-BCS qualifying conference teams Webster trails only A.J. Hughes of Virginia Tech.
This is an important qualification. Many non-BCS teams have played a number of paycheck games, leading to more punts than usual. Among the nation's leaders are Miami (OH), Western Michigan, Idaho, Florida International, and Florida Atlantic, who have all played a number of paycheck games where they get beat up by much better teams.
Yes, it is not much to look at in a season where the results on the season have been less than optimal. I would rather Webster sit on the sidelines and only come on the field to hold for Paul Griggs extra points as the Purdue offense marches up and down the field. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. Instead, we get to see one of the best punters in the college game audition for one of the very rare NFL jobs at his position.