Blake Haudan Relishes Chance to Return Home

Blake Haudan, a redshirt senior from Toledo, has plenty of things on his mind as the Gophers face Ohio State this weekend. Haudan, who is averaging 42.6 yards per punt, will have to contend with his second straight crowd of 100,000 or more hostile fans. He is also worried about finding enough tickets for his family and friends who are making the two and half hour trip to Columbus this weekend.

Blake Haudan, who had not attempt a punt in a college game before this season, had to watch highly recruited Dan Orseske win the starting job. However, when Oreseke was sidelined with mononucleosis, Haudan has made the most of his opportunity. He has had ten punts result in fair catches and ten more that landed inside the twenty-yard line this season.

Haudan averaged 49.8 yards per punt last weekend at Penn State and is looking forward to a trip back to his homestate. However, he is making sure that he doesn't get too excited for the upcoming contest and will treat this like any other game.

"I try to do my best to keep them all the same. To not get too up or too down for any game. But this is definitely the closest to home, so I'll have the most personal impact with family and friends being there and able to watch."

Haudan has gotten plenty of ticket requests from family and friends for the Ohio State game.

"So far, I have 25 or 30. The list is getting bigger every day. Trying to keep it under control. I am trying to trade other game tickets and see what I can do with the other guys on the team to get as many tickets as possible."

Haudan think that playing back-to-back games in front of 100,000 fans will help the Gophers.

"Absolutely. Coming into the year, people were saying that it was a tough road schedule having those game back-t0-back. I disagree.It is a huge advantage to have two big, 100,000 plus games back-to-back because last week, we get a bit more acclimated to having that many fans and that kind of crowd and going into Ohio State, I think that it is definitely an advantage."

Haudan thinks the past road trips give him an edge over some of his younger teammates.

"For the younger guys, it can be a big deal going into a stadium and having that atmosphere against you with the crowd noise. I have traveled in the past and I have been around it, so it is something that I am pretty confident with and feel composed with handling."

Haudan had a chance to check out some Big Ten games as a high school player.

"I played three high school sports, so I was pretty busy. But when I got a chance, I'd catch a Michigan game or an Ohio State game. I've been around the atmosphere a lot. It's exciting. It's Big Ten football, so it's fun."

Haudan follows fellow Ohio Native Justin Kucek, who was a four year starter whose college career ended last season. Haudan said that he learned quite a bit from Kucek.

"We still keep in touch. He'll actually be at the game and (former Gopher placekicker) Jason Gianni was from Ohio. He was a Canton guy and I think that he is going to the game, too. We keep in touch with those guys and it is fun to go back and talk about old stories and I'll ask him questions about punting and he'll text me and say good luck or you had a nice punt. He's always there and been very supportive."

Haudan has had several strong games, which has helped his confidence level.

"Yes. I think that it's confidence and I think that it is also knowing the situation and having the coaches be there for you. They back me up in all my situations and coming to the sidelines and knowing that "hey maybe this or maybe that." It has been a big help, so confidence definitely. Also, every game is different. There is different conditions, wind conditions, different venues. So, although it is confidence, it changes from week to week."

Haudan had hoped to earn the punting job this season as a senior, but he was beaten out by freshman Dan Orseske. Haudan admits that it was tough coming in as a backup.

"Initially, I think that it was pretty disappointing. I worked really hard in the offseason to make this season everything that it could be. But, then after you get over that disappointment, you just need to stay positive and wait for an opportunity and once you get the opportunity, to make the most of it."

Haudan feels that his success this season has been even more rewarding after waiting so long for his opportunity.

"It think that it makes it more sweet and it makes me value it even more, if that's possible. I value it a lot, but taking it with more value, really helps a lot. Every kick. I just want to make sure I make the most of it."

Haudan grew up near both Michigan and Ohio State and wanted the chance to play in one of the country's top conferences.

"I wanted to play in the Big Ten, so just deciding where was the right fit and what coaching staff and everything. A lot of times with schools, it's who needs a punter. Minnesota fit right in for me."

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