Week 4 of the NFL and Week 5 of the NCAAF has now been completed. So let’s have a look at how the Aussie expats have fared in this week’s games.
The Hayne Train Solid and (reasonably) Steady
Last week Jarryd Hayne made the highlights reel with a Hayne’s 37 yard punt return against the Cardinals, but this week he was little quieter in the 49ers’ 17-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
But in saying this it seems that the Packers were wary of Hayne, in particular the extra yardage he can gain if given space from the sideline.
In affect this means that Hayne’s pretty good at not being tackled, so Packer’s punter Tim Masthay aimed for the sidelines which limited Hayne’s return options.
But Hayne’s performance was still solid with three punt returns for a total of six yards, although one unfortunate fumble summed up the 49ers’ day.
Hayne realised he was a sitting duck under a high Green Bay punt and raised his arm for a fair catch. This signals that you’re simply taking the catch and stops a barrage of opposition bodies slamming you into the turf.
But Hayne’s call was a little late, and whilst the Packer’s gunners saw the call and backed off, teammate L.J. McCray didn’t, and thinking that he would defending Hayne from a couple of 120kg Green Bay tackles, instead crashed into Hayne causing the fumble.
However, Hayne’s fumble was of little consequence in an underwhelming day for the 49ers. Much of the blame was placed on quarter back Colin Kaepernick’s poor passing performance, so much so that he was booed by the home crowd in the fourth quarter.
Rating: Hayne was far from the worst of the 49ers players, and other than the late fair catch call, he performed as a punt returner should. What’s more, it’s a week that showed Hayne is on the opposition radar.
3 out of 5
Brad Wing – The Aussie Punter Who Rules them All
It’s fair to say that there aren’t that many Aussies in the NFL. Therefore there’s a certain irony to the fact that Australian Brad Wing lost his spot as the Pittsburgh Steelers punter to fellow Australian, Jordan Berry.
But as a consequence the Steelers traded Wing to the New York Giants, and it seems that Wing prefers eating hotdogs to just Heinz ketchup.
Wing is currently the league leader for Inside 20 Yard Line Punts, and he also has the fourth fewest Average Punt Return Yards in the league.
This means that Wing’s punting is causing problems for opposition punt returners, and teams are forced to start their drive from deep from within their own end of the field.
This week’s game against the Buffalo Bills saw Wing accumulate another eight punts for an average of 44.4 yards, four of which landed inside the 20 yard line.
This contributed to a 24-10 win over the Bills which was the Giants second win from four games.
Rating: Wing is performing well at his new club, and is out performing his Australian rival Jordan Berry. Based on his stats, and the fact that he’s showing up his rival, Wing is deserving of a good rating this week.
4 out of 5
Gotsis’ Ejection Contributes to Loss
It isn’t just the NFL where Aussies are having an impact – in this instance however, we’re talking literally.
Georgia Tech defensive tackle and Melbourne native Adam Gotsis was ejected for targeting early during the second quarter in their game against North Carolina.
To put it simply, in college football if you slam the top of your helmet into another player, or if you use your helmet, fist, elbow, or shoulder to make contact with another players head or neck, this is targeting and you get automatically ejected from the game.
However, Gotsis, who is playing his third season at Georgia Tech, has become an invaluable senior player for the Yellow Jackets and at the beginning of the season was named one of three captains.
Gotsis’ ejection thinned out an already depleted Georgia Tech defence who later gave up a 0-21 lead to lose to North Carolina 38-31.
Rating: Gotsis’ ejection meant he had no effect on this game, and in doing so he let his teammates down. But then again he did get ejected for slamming his head into an opposition quarterback, so that has to be worth something. However, I’m sure were going to see some better ratings from Gotsis in the weeks to come.
1 out of 5