The battle within the battle (if you can call a 49-17 whipping a "battle") yesterday was between the assumed best punter in the Pac-10 -- Cal's Bryan Anger was second team all-conference a year ago behind a senior on the first team -- and the actual best punter in the conference, our very own Reid Forrest.
Forrest clearly won that showdown yesterday, with seven punts for a 42.9 average with three of them downed inside the 20, a long of 53 yards, and no touchbacks. Anger, by contrast, had four punts for an average of 39.2, a long of 47 with none inside the 20 and no touchbacks.
However, a Cal commenter had to come over and try to throw a wet blanket over the festivities by saying that the best punter he'd seen this year was not Anger or Forrest, but UCLA's Jeff Locke. We haven't seen UCLA yet this year, so I initially scoffed at the notion that anyone could be a better give-the-ball-back-to-the-other-team kicker than our own champion of punting.
Here's what the numbers say:
To quickly summarize: Forrest has punted way more than these other two, yet has fewer touchbacks; he's tied for the lead in punts inside the 20, despite an offense that rarely approaches midfield; has eight more punts of 50+ yards than Locke and Anger -- hey, it's not Reid's fault their team's sites don't track that; and he's got a greater rushing average.
Yes, Locke is good. But the conclusion is simple.
Our teams punter is better than your team's punter.