Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Starting Punter Leach Rides the Pine

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Starting Punter Leach Rides the Pine

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

GAINESVILLE -- The Maytag repairman? Lonely? Hah.

Have him pull up a chair next to Matt Leach. Have him listen to Leach talk about what he has done the last two weeks.

"I have to stretch out a lot," he said. "I get tight from standing."

Leach is a freshman at the University of Florida. He punts for the football team. Well, he did punt a few times back in October. Lately, he might as well be a beer vendor at Brigham Young.

You want to know how much of a roll the Gators' offense is on? Never mind counting Rex Grossman's consecutive 300-yard passing games. Forget all the other big numbers. The most amazing figures -- the ones that best show what the Florida State defense will face tomorrow -- are the small ones found next to Leach's name.

He has punted only 21 times in nine games. And he hasn't punted at home since Sept. 29. That's right. Nearly two months. In that 52-0 victory against Mississippi State, he only punted once, which now sounds like a busy night.

Last two weeks?

Zero punts.

The last time he got in a game was in Jacksonville, for the Georgia game on Oct. 27. And when you ask him what he remembers about his last kick, things get a little fuzzy. Not that you can blame him.

"That seems like forever," he says.

Close. It was so long ago that Zac Zedalis was practically a true freshman.

While it was one thing to avoid punting against Vandy, that's kind of like avoiding using a driver on the par-3 course. The Gators figured special teams might be a factor at South Carolina. Before the trip, Florida coach Steve Spurrier even tried to prepare Leach.

"He said they will come after us," Leach said that week. "He just says to do what I'm capable of doing."

As it turned out, Leach did exactly what he did against Vandy. Warm up on third down. …

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