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Monday October 8, 2012Gators sophomore Christy leads SEC in punting after repeatedly flipping field on LSU

Updated: 3:51pm, October 8

Kyle Christy

Photo: Gators punter Kyle Christy now leads the SEC in punting after a strong outing Saturday.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – If they handed out team MVP awards at halftime of every game, Florida punter Kyle Christy would have certainly received strong consideration on Saturday in the Gators’ 14-6 win over No. 4-ranked LSU.

Florida’s defense limited the Tigers to a pair of field goals in the first half. Meanwhile, Florida had only 47 yards of total offense and zero points.

Part of the reason the Tigers managed only six points was Christy’s right leg. Christy punted four times for an average of 49.2 yards in the first half, including a 61-yarder. At one point, four consecutive Florida drives ended with Christy coming onto the field.

His kicks pinned the Tigers at their 9-, 6-, 21- and 8-yard line.

"He sure did affect the field position,'' LSU coach Les Miles said. "We were always coming off our own goal line, it appeared, for most of the game."

Christy’s high spiraling kicks allowed Florida gunner Loucheiz Purifoy to make a textbook cover tackle on LSU return man Odell Beckham on Christy’s first punt, a 51-yarder. His second punt traveled 61 yards and again, Purifoy was right there to slow down Beckham. Chris Johnson made the tackle after Purifoy initially forced Beckham to move horizontally.

“I thought our coverage units were really good,’’ Gators coach Will Muschamp said. “They’ve been pretty solid all season. I think [Purifoy] is a guy who is covering as well as I’ve ever been around.”

Christy’s impressive performance wasn’t lost on Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel, who passed for only 61 yards Saturday and was sacked five times.

“He changed field position like three or four times and backed them up, and we had good coverage and we had good hang time on those punts,’’ Driskel said. “That’s huge to be able to back team up, because with our defense, it’s going to be hard to get an 85-, 90-yard drive. He did a really good job all day.”

Christy punted three more times in the second half and finished with a 49.1 average on seven kicks. He now leads the SEC in punting with a 46.5-yard average on 24 kicks, owning a slight lead over Arkansas’ Dylan Breeding (46.4-yard average on 30 kicks).

Christy has nine punts that pinned the opponent inside its 20-yard line and nine punts of 50-plus yards.

Immediately after the game in the locker room, Christy said he was pleased his kicks made a difference in the game.

“It was great except for the one I dropped,’’ Christy said of a snap he dropped in the second half before getting the punt off. “I was pretty scared about that. Other than that, it was just great to flip the field and put them in bad field position. We put a lot of focus on special teams.”

A sophomore from Brownsburg, Ind., Christy was also a place kicker in high school. With All-American candidate Caleb Sturgis handling the kicking duties, Christy is showing off his punting skills on a weekly basis.

“I got here and just focused on punting, and that has helped me a lot,’’ he said. “I’ve just got to keep it up. When you hit a ball and you feel it off your foot and you know it’s going to be good, that feels great to see the ball flying down the field.”

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