Drue Chrisman has played in half of his inaugural regular season games and has made Ohio State fans take notice with his punting skills. Chrisman's stellar performance has some Buckeyes fans asking, "Cam who?"
I'm not ready to put Chrisman above Cameron Johnston...yet.
So, who had the better start to their Ohio State career? The bottle flipper or the Ausie? To find out, this piece will break down each of their first six games. The punters will get points for having the best numbers in each of the following statistical categories:
- Punting Average (AVG)
- Longest Punt (Long)
- Punts Inside the 20 (I20)
- Percentage of Punts Inside the 20 (I20%)
- Touchbacks (TB)
Points are awarded for each game and the player's overall total stats through six games.
It's time for Jim Tressel's favorite competition begin.
Drue Chrisman had the tougher first game between the two punters. The Cincinnati native had to start his career against a Big Ten opponent, on the road, on a Thursday night and he was on national television. No pressure there. How did he respond?
Chrisman banged six punts for 272 yards and pinned three of them inside the 20 (13, 15, and 8). He also boomed a punt for a season/career high 62 yards. The bottle flipper was off to a nice start.
Cameron Johnston had a little bit of an easier start to his career. The Buckeyes played Buffalo in Ohio Stadium and Johnston was only called upon three times. He had a long of 42 and landed the last of his three punts at the 15. Not as impressive as Chrisman, but solid.
Game 1 winner: Drue Chrisman
|DRUE CHRISMAN||No. 5 OKLAHOMA||45.8||52||4||1.000||0||5|
|CAM JOHNSTON||SAN DIEGO STATE||42.2||47||1||.250||0||1|
For the second straight game, Chrisman played under the lights and on national television. This time it was against the fifth ranked Oklahoma Sooners in Ohio Stadium. Like the first game, Chrisman was up to the challenge. He had four punts and downed all four inside the 20. Two of the downed punts were inside the 10-yard line. Drue finished with an average of 45.8 yards per punt and had a long of 52.
Johnston's second game was in Ohio Stadium against San Diego State. He also had four punts, but only pinned one inside the 20. Cam averaged 42.2 yards per punt and had a long of 47 yards.
Game 2 Winner: Drue Chrisman
Entering his third game, Drue Chrisman had placed seven of his first 10 punts inside the 20 yard line and was averaging an impressive 45.5 yards per punt. He only had two opportunities in this game and placed on of his punts at the 1-yard line. Chrisman finished this game with an average of 37.5 per attempt, but also had the dreaded touchback.
The trip to California didn't shake the steady Ausie. Johnston had a 61-yard punt and downed two punts inside the 20 (18 and 15). He averaged 41.2 yard per punt and started his career with three straight games with an average of 41.2 or better.
Game 3 Winner: Cameron Johnston
|CAM JOHNSTON||FLORIDA A&M||32.0||32||1||1.000||0||2|
Game four brought less talented teams to the Horseshoe for both specialists. For the second straight game, Chrisman only had two attempts. He made the most of them against UNLV as he averaged 47.5 yards per try and put them both inside the 20 (7 and 15). Drue finished the game with a long of 52 yards.
Johnston faced Florida A&M and the Ohio State offense could not be stopped. Cam wasn't called upon until the start of the 4th quarter. He placed his lone punt inside the 20, but it only went 32 yards and was downed at the 15.
Game 4 Winner: Drue Chrisman
|CAM JOHNSTON||No. 23 WISCONSIN||39.8||55||6||1.000||0||5|
Against Rutgers, Chrisman placed three of his four punts inside the 20 (11, 13 and 19). He wasn't under much pressure as the Buckeyes controlled the game from the start and was able to bang a 51-yarder. This was the second game Chrisman finished with an average below 40.0 yards.
Wisconsin was a game of firsts for Johnston. It was the first time he played against a ranked team and the first time he played a game that started at night. He brought his pitching wedge as he placed all six of his punts inside the 20. His performance was even better when you consider five of the six were downed inside the 10. Johnston was a weapon that night and his field flipping was instrumental in Ohio State's 31-24 victory.
Game 5 Winner: Cameron Johnston
|CAM JOHNSTON||No. 16 NORTHWESTERN||38.0||39||3||1.000||0||4|
Last week, Chrisman was only called upon twice. He had a long of 49 and pinned the Terrapins at the 17. Chrisman tweaked his lower kicking leg during Nuernberger's blocked field goal. He had to punt shortly after and shanked it for 22 yards. The worst punt of his young career.
Johnston was playing a ranked team at night for the second straight week. This time the Buckeyes were in Evanston to play No. 16 Northwestern. The Ausie's first punt was downed at the Wildcats' 1-yard line. The Buckeyes stuffed the home team in three straight plays that led to a blocked punt from the back of the end zone. Roby recovered and Ohio State eventually won 40-30. Johnston's other two punts were downed at the 13 and 16.
Over the last three games, Johnston place all 10 of his punts inside the opponent's 20. That is impressive.
Game 6 Winner: Cameron Johnston
Looking at the overall table, it is remarkable how even the two punters are after six games. To this point, Chrisman has 20 punts and Johnston 21. Drue has a 1.5 yard advantage in average, and his 62-yard long is one yard better than Johnston's 61 yarder.
Both punters have 14 punts inside the 20 and their percent of punts downed inside the 20 is virtually even. Chrisman owns the lone touchback of the 41 punts attempted between the talented specialists.
|PLAYER||GAME 1||GAME 2||GAME 3||GAME 4||GAME 5||GAME 6||OVERALL||TOTAL|
For giggles, let's add Tom Tupa's first six games into this competition. If you didn't know, Tupa was also a pretty good punter for the Buckeyes.
Tupa didn't down as many punts inside the 20 as Chrisman and Johnston. The pride of Brecksville also had quite a bit more land in the end zone. However, through six games, Tupa had three punts over 60 yards and his average of 48.7 was considerably higher than Chrisman and Johnston.
It is way too early, but it appears Chrisman is on the same path as two of Ohio State's greatest punters. At this point, I'd rank him behind Johnston and Tupa, but he has plenty of time to make his case.
For those of you wondering, Tom Skladany was not included because he did not punt for Ohio State during his freshman year of 1973.