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Punting battle between Iowa’s Tory Taylor, Rutgers’ Adam Korsak could be ‘story you can tell in 10 years’
Australian football helps Taylor, Korsak with precision punting
IOWA CITY — Iowa punter Tory Taylor still remembers a 2019 YouTube video called “The Greatest Punter Battle in History.”
To the tune of T.I.’s “Bring Em Out,” the video shows Iowa’s Michael Sleep-Dalton and Rutgers’ Adam Korsak each hitting impressive punt after impressive punt for more than three minutes.
Sleep-Dalton had six punts for 290 yards. Korsak had 10 punts for 476 yards.
“(Korsak) really didn’t win the Ray Guy Award that week or whatever it is?” Taylor said. “That’s crazy.”
Now, Taylor could be part of the next great punter battle in Iowa history.
Iowa’s Big Ten opener against Rutgers on Saturday will feature two of the top punters of 2022 in college football — Rutgers’ Korsak and Iowa’s Taylor — who also have a lot in common.
“That’s going to be an exciting game for both of us,” Korsak told The Gazette at Big Ten Media Days in July. “It’s a story you can tell in 10 years of how cool that would be when we’re probably both old in Melbourne … and talking about that day.”
Along with both being from Melbourne, Australia, they also learned from the same kicking academy — ProKick Australia. It’s where Taylor went back in the offseason to work on his “traditional spiral punt from the pocket” and build confidence.
Korsak said the “level of competition” at ProKick Australia prepared him well for the Big Ten.
“I was going against Max Duffy, who was at Kentucky, every day,” Korsak said. “I was trying to keep up with him.”
The two ProKick Australia alumni facing off Saturday are friends. Taylor estimated they “touch base maybe two or three times a week.”
“It’s never really too much about football,” Taylor said.
Korsak described Taylor as a “great dude” and someone he wants to see succeed. Taylor said they often trade “good luck” texts.
The respect for what each other does on the field is evident. Taylor praised Korsak’s consistency.
“He’s really been doing it for a couple of years now,” Taylor said. “No touchbacks, which is something that I wish I could emulate.”
Albeit to different extents, Korsak and Taylor have been effective at placing punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line on a regular basis.
Taylor has 13 punts inside the 20 and only five touchbacks so far in 2022. Korsak has five punts inside the 20 and no touchbacks.
Korsak hasn’t had a touchback since 2019.
“He’s a tremendous punter,” Iowa special teams coordinator LeVar Woods said. “We all saw that firsthand here in 2019, and then he hasn’t gotten any worse over the last couple of years.”
Woods, widely regarded as one of the top special teams coordinators in the country, said Australian football’s emphasis on kicking has given punters there “more opportunities” and “more reps.”
“Our kids grow up here, they grow up passing the football with their hands,” Woods said. “These guys grew up passing the football with their feet. ... The American quarterback is better at throwing and the Australian punter is better at punting, if that makes any sense.”
That’s what Taylor believes has led to his success at pinning opponents inside the 20.
“I may be a little bit of a smart a-- when I say this, but that’s something I’ve been doing for 20 years,” the 25-year-old Taylor said. “Everyone kind of goes crazy when we put them inside the 5, but really it’s not that difficult of a punt for me.”
Taylor has been downplaying a lot of the national attention he has been getting — individually through three games and ahead of the Taylor-Korsak punting battle.
Pat McAfee, a former NFL punter and prominent sports media personality, lauded Taylor on ESPN’s popular College GameDay show. McAfee referred to Taylor as possibly an “alien” because he is “electrifying on fourth downs” after the “miserable-to-watch” offense leaves the field.
“Can we calm that down?” Taylor said. “I don’t really like the national attention, so if anyone’s out there, tell him to shut up, would you?”
Seriously, though, he does “really appreciate” McAfee’s praise.
“It is pretty cool,” Taylor said. “Hopefully I will get to meet him one day.“
Don’t tell Taylor this game against Korsak will be a “punting duel.” When a reporter brought the phrase up, Taylor quickly quipped, “Well, you are, yes.”
“I think that’s just you,” Taylor said.
After all, any issues Korsak causes for the Hawkeyes won’t directly impact Taylor.
“I know he’s going to bring a lot of problems and issues for us and not necessarily me,” Taylor said. “Because I don’t have anything to do with it. I’m sure Coach Woods is thinking about it a lot.”
Taylor will be wishing “all success” to Korsak on Saturday, as usual, but there’s a catch this week.
“As long as we kick their a-- on Saturday, that’s all that matters,” Taylor said.