The booming sound produced when San Diego State punter Matt Araiza’s foot collides with a football contrasts with what Araiza experiences in the moment.
“It’s weird,” Araiza said. “You think you would feel it when you hit it that hard, but when you hit it that perfect, you don’t feel a thing. Almost like you missed the ball.”
Araiza, who is in the midst of setting an NCAA single-season punting yardage record, knows better than most.
Long punts have become his specialty.
The powerful left leg of the junior from Rancho Bernardo High has produced punts of 86 and 81 yards in back-to-back games this season. He has six punts of more than 70 yards (no one else has more than two). His 15 punts of more than 60 yards is an NCAA record.
On Wednesday he was named as one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the nation’s top punter. Araiza leads the nation in punt average at 51.95 yards, which is nearly a yard more than the NCAA record of 50.98 yards set three years ago by Texas A&M’s Braden Mann.
Araiza’s punting exploits, which grow more legendary with each passing week, align nicely with this week’s opponent and its historical punting footnote.
First place in the West Division of the Mountain West is at stake when No. 22 SDSU (8-1, 4-1 MW) hosts Nevada (7-2, 4-1) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Carson’s Dignity Health Sports Park.
With Araiza threatening to rewrite the NCAA record book this season, it has raised a number of punting questions.
Among them: What is the longest punt in NCAA history?
Turns out it is a 99-yard punt by a player from Nevada.
It was 71 years ago — Oct. 28, 1950 — that Nevada quarterback Pat Brady, who also punted for the Wolf Pack, set an NCAA record that can never be broken during a 34-7 home loss against Los Angeles Loyola (now Loyola Marymount).
The circumstances surrounding Brady’s kick were described this way in the Nevada State Journal:
“Brady kicked the ball 99 yards on one occasion. It was the longest kick ever seen in Mackey Stadium, at least since official statistics have been recorded here.
“The ball was resting on a line of scrimmage just scant inches inside of Nevada’s goal line when the tall Nevada quarterback lined up in regular ‘I’ formation. He suddenly backed up and booted a quick-kick.
“It sailed far over the head of the surprised Loyola safety man and finally hit the turf deep in Loyola territory. Instead of rolling to a halt, the pigskin kept on bounding and ultimately came to rest less than two feet from the opposite goal line.”
Accounts of the punt indicate that it landed at the Loyola 25-yard line before bouncing and rolling another 24 yards toward the goal line.
“It’s awesome because it’s the perfect punt and very rare because everything has to go perfect,” Araiza said. “I’ve never had to punt from the 1, even in high school, so I’m not sure how often punters even get that opportunity.”
The line of scrimmage was the SDSU 11-yard line for Araiza’s 86-yard punt against San Jose State. That ball hit at the 30-yard line, then got 27 yards of bounce and roll before being down by the Aztecs at the 3.
“The roll is more or …….