Murphy's' Law, Legacy Doesn't Affect Parker

Following the departure of standout punter Nick Murphy, the general consensus was that ASU's punting situation this season would be a constant sore spot. Even current punter Tim Parker was wondering during his redshirt season last year, how well he would do as the starter now that Murphy was gone.

"At times redshirting was hard because I made it hard on myself." Says the junior, "I watched Nick kick, and I couldn't believe how high he was kicking the ball. I was thinking to myself – how am I gonna fill his shoes? I almost felt that it was an impossible task, but here I am right now." Indeed Parker has arrived and is having an impressive start to his ASU career. Currently, he's ranked 2nd in the conference and 18th nationally averaging 42.9 yards a punt. So far this season, the JC transfer has only dipped once below 40 yards average for a game, and in his last two games he has averaged 47.3 and 46 yards respectively. When asked what's the biggest improvement he has seen in his game, he replied: "My technique and mechanics are better, but I've really improved my leg strength from last year. I knew had to get stronger, and I worked hard on it."

Parker appreciates everything he has learned from last year's senior Nick Murphy. The Sun Devil punter is also very fortunate to be coached by Tom Osborne, who's regarded as one of the best special teams coaches in the country. "Coach Osborne has helped me a lot too, especially with mechanics. We sit down every week and break down film, and see what I did right and wrong, and what I need to do for the upcoming week."

In a nip and tuck game, such as the Oregon State contest last week, it was natural for Parker to be called upon quite often to give the opposing offense a long field to work with. By his own admission it was probably his finest performance in the maroon and gold uniform. "It was one of those nights where everything came together. I just had it…it was a close game where field position was critical, and we were able to beat them on field position. I felt I had more power in my leg, and except for a couple of punts my placement was really good."

The angle kicking is a staple of Coach Osborne's teachings, and Parker explains how that theory materializes on game day. "Most of my kicks are for placement. If we're on the left hash mark, we kick it to the left corner. If we're on the right hash mark, we kick it to the right corner. If we're in the middle we always kick to the right, because I'm a right legged punter." This style of punting helps ASU limit its opponents to only 6.5 yards per punt return. However, the humble Parker sees his teammates as the real reason for the Sun Devils' success in covering punts. "I give a lot of credit to our punt team. Maybe the returners get nervous, or trying to get underneath the ball, but our punt team has done a great job of covering kicks."

Parker enrolled in Southwestern College so he could play Baseball, but decided that he wanted to play Football as well in order not to have too much down time during the season. While it was his Football skills that allowed him to play at the collegiate level, he does have dreams of playing two sports at ASU. Nevertheless, he's willing to put those plans on hold. "I can't think of Baseball right now. I have a responsibility to my teammates. It's something that I'd like to do, but I can't really be thinking about it."

Playing Oregon (who ironically were neck and neck with ASU in Parker's recruitment), the best punt return team in the Pac-10, the punter cannot help but focus on the Ducks and the conference's top punt return man – Keenan Howry. The Sun Devils have unpleasant memories from Eugene and last year's game there, and the punter doesn't see a poor repeat performance by himself and his teammates. "This is a lot different team than last year. We know we can beat them. We have confidence, and we believe that if the game will be close we'll win – the second half is our half." If Tim Parker continues his progression, and his clutch performance in tight games, he may just be able to lend a hand towards an improbable Sun Devil victory this week.

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