University of Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino typically spends a bulk of his practice time focusing on special teams because of the impact it has on the game.
The ninth-year head coach has dedicated scholarships on a punter and placekicker, which isn’t normal in most programs, and it’s paid off with spectacular production.
“Coach Petrino always preaches in meetings how important special teams are, and how you can win or lose a game because of special teams,” punter Mason King said. “We don’t take it for granted. We try to get a huge chunk of land on special teams. We just have to take advantage of the opportunity to make a play.”
A pair of juniors, King and kicker Blanton Creque have excelled at their craft the last two seasons, putting up record-breaking numbers.
Not getting many opportunities to punt the football the last two years, King hasn’t cracked the national rankings because he hasn’t met the minimum requirements. However, the Louisville native has set the school record in consecutive seasons with a 43.9 yard punting average.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” King said of hitting a booming punt. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to know that you just changed the game. It’s a lot of fun, especially when the whole team comes together on offense, defense, and special teams.”
The school’s record holder for field goal accuracy at 84.6 percent, Creque has kicked 33-of-39 field goals in his career, connecting on 17 of 20 last season to earn all-ACC honorable mention accolades.
The Shelbyville native arrived in Louisville as a walk-on, capping out at 44-45 yards, but through hard work and getting stronger, Creque was able to hit a career-long 48-yarder last season against NC State.
“When I came in, I was hitting field goals between 45-50 yards, but I wasn’t hitting a good ball,” Creque said. “However, I’ve tried not to kick it as hard, but work more on my form. I feel good in camp, so I’ve been able to kick the ball a lot farther.”
The Cardinals have a legacy of great placekickers, with the likes of Art Carmody, David Akers, and John Wallace to just name a few, and Creque is kicking his way onto that list with his accuracy over the last two seasons.
“It was a good year last year,” Creque said. “I’m always trying to work on my game. I want to take my consistency to a whole different level. You can always get better at focusing. I think it comes with repetition at practice and continue getting reps.”