Last Facet of the Punter Battle: Ethan Albright

As my obsession with the position battle at punter has grown, I’ve spoken to just about everyone involved — both punters, their position coach, and even ten year old Jaxon Jordan, who worked the Jugs machine yesterday. When you watch the kickers around practice, though, they’re always accompanied by one other guy: long snapper Ethan Albright. Finally, I asked him for insights on his role in the whole thing (as well as his legendary Madden ranking).

Derrick Frost and Ethan Albright.

Derrick Frost and Ethan Albright.

So I’ve been watching holding drills a lot over the last few days.

(laughs and looks slightly skeptical) Okay….?

And … well, what makes a good snap

One that the holder can catch. It sounds simple, but everybody likes to catch it somewhere different. Wherever the holder is, you’ve got to find his spot to hold.

All right, and then what makes a good hold? Or is that entirely down to the kicker?

Every kicker likes the ball spotted a little bit differently. Everyone’s got their quirks. So it’s just a matter of working together and getting the chemistry going.

In the Jugs practice, you hand the ball to the equipment guy, who “snaps” it to the holder. Why do things that way?

Just for the number of reps. Every time you spin the laces on the Jugs machine, they’re going to pop out somewhere different on the ball for the holder. So he’s gotta find the laces and spin them around. That’s the main thing they’re working on in the Jugs drill., is having the holder handle different placement of the laces

But isn’t it important for you to gain reps, especially if they wind up going with a new holder?

Durant and I get together and practice that separately. Derrick and I have done this together for years, and we’ve got a good comfort zone, but I’m definitely getting some extra reps with Durant.

Thing is, with me snapping, they come back the same way every time. They hit him the same way, and that’s how we want it on gameday: no surprises. But it’s nice to have a variation, and that’s why we use the Jugs. I don’t want to practice bad snaps, you know?

Makes sense. One other, totally separate thing: how’d you do on the Madden rankings this year?

Not in it. Second year in a row, I’m not in it. Ever since that anonymous letter came out, I’ve been left out of the game.

Really?

Well, ever since a couple of years ago, when I was the lowest ranked in the game. A lot of reporters had fun with that, and they went to the software makers, who said, “Well, there’s not a lot of fun in bad snaps, so we put him in the game as a tackle,” which I haven’t played since the ’93 Gator Bowl. So, if the snap is going to be automatic, why even have me in the game? Apparently people get really pissed off when there’s a bad snap.

So you’re okay with that?

I don’t play the game. I’ve learned all about Madden now, but no, it doesn’t offend me in the least.

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7 Responses

  1. There have to be other stories around camp to write about other than punters. Please find one of them!

  2. This is it for the punter battle for awhile, promise.

  3. Seriously… I LOVE the punter battle. Somehow it both matters, and yet… it’s the PUNTING battle. But just in case this gets settled early, could we try a 5 parter on the gunners?

    Keep up the highly entertaining work.

  4. Yeah, a bad snap on a punt in Madden would definitely make me want to swear and throw the controller. Then again, to me, swearing and controller-throwing are signs of a good game.

  5. The punter position battle is one of the more important ones of the offseason, Willis.

    Were you not infuriated by the myriad of shanked punts by Frost last season? It was horrible.

  6. Durant Brooks will unleash the fury

  7. I am not debating the value of punters. I think both place kickers and punters are all undervalued members of the squad. I am just ready to read about the battle for a spot on the defensive line or what linebacker is looking great right now. Aside from that keep on trucking Matt. You are doing fine.

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