Christy looks set for a rebound

The numbers aren't pretty. After finishing as Ray Guy Award finalist following the 2012 season, Kyle Christy looked like a shell of himself during the 2013 season. He was eventually replaced by freshman Johnny Townsend. Christy's numbers took a big dip in 2013, but the ball jumped off his foot in the spring with similar hang time and distance to 2012.

The 2012 season for Kyle Christy was one of the best for any punter in Florida history.

After a sluggish start in the season opener against Bowling Green, Christy ripped off a streak of six straight games with a long punt of at least 53 yards. He dropped multiple punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line in four of those six games. His punting changed games, especially for an offense that struggled to consistently put points on the board.

Christy finished 2012 by setting a new school record with 45.8 yards per punt. He had 66 punts, tying him for fifth most in a single season in school history. Christy recorded a punt of 50+ yards in 10 of the team's 13 games, and 25 of his 66 punts went for 50+ yards.

Heading into the 2013 season, Florida was expected to use a redshirt on freshman Johnny Townsend, allow him to learn the ropes under Christy and take over once Christy graduated. That didn't happen.

Christy served as the starting punter for the team's first six games, although he didn't punt against Kentucky because the Gators were never in a punting situation. After the team's loss at LSU, Christy was benched in favor of the true freshman. Townsend held the job for the remainder of the season.

Christy's average fell from 45.8 yards in 2012 to 39.6 yards in 2013. He averaged one touchback per seven punts, worse than the one touchback per 11 punts in 2012. In 2013, he dropped one punt inside the opponent's 20-yard line every three tries. In 2012, that number was as low as one punt inside the 20 per 2.4 attempts.

Things looked different in the spring. The ball came off his foot to the same sound it did when he was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award in 2012. The distance returned, and the accuracy to pin a punt deep in the corner of an opponent's end zone was back.

But it's not as simple as it was last offseason when Christy entered the year as the unquestioned starter.

This year, he has competition. Townsend looms large in the race for the punter job, but it's a unique situation because the Gators cannot split reps and waste a year of eligibility for both players. Ideally, Christy or Townsend wins the job during the fall and the other takes a redshirt to preserve a year of eligibility.

The best case scenario in terms of the future of the position would probably be for Christy to win the job and play out his final year of eligibility. That would allow Townsend to redshirt and have three years of eligibility left to handle the position.

In order for that to happen, Christy has to prove that he's out of the funk that caused him to struggle last year. Spring was a positive first step in making that happen.


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