For Australians playing NFL week 11…oh, there weren’t any.
Both the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers had byes, and Jarryd Hayne and David Yankey are still sitting on practice rosters hoping for elevation.
It does however raise the question; “what do the Aussies who play NFL do when they have the weekend off?” Well, we know that Jarryd Hayne spent his time telling the media that he isn’t planning on returning to the NRL. And we know that Jordan Berry took the time to go see some hopeful Aussie punters who were facing off in the NCAAF.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) November 21, 2015
— Jordan Berry (@JBerryEKU) November 22, 2015
As for the rest, I can tell you what they should have been doing. They should have been checking out Louisiana State University’s newest Australian basketball recruit, Ben Simmons. I mean seriously, you need to know about this guy so much so that I’m including him in this week’s roundup.
Aussie Punters Face Off
I love a good Aussie versus Aussie punt off. And this week it happened when Blake O’Neill’s Michigan Wolverines took on Daniel Pasquariello’s Penn State Nittany Lions.
And punt they did with the Aussies hitting the ground 11 times during the game.
Of those punts, five went to Blake O’Neill who averaged 39.6 yards with two inside 20s and his longest punt being 50 yards. Daniel Pasquariello punted 6 times for an average of 37.5 yards with his longest punt being 46 yards and one landing inside the 20 yard line.
— PSU1995 (@westillarepsu) November 21, 2015
However, the Wolverine’s special teams’ protection of O’Neill was at times inadequate. One play saw Penn State’s linebacker Von Walker get a hand on O’Neill’s punt late in the second quarter. It resulted in the ball coming to rest on Michigan’s 43 yard line and setup a touchdown for Penn State only minutes later.
Pasquariello also had a mixed day with one punt only travelling 37 yards and going out of bounds on Michigan’s 41 yard line. I’m sure Penn State’s special teams couch would have liked to have seen that one travel another 30 yards.
The Wolverines ended up outscoring the Nittany Lions 28-16 and look to have a chance at their first the Big Ten Conference title in over a decade. They currently sit 3rd in the Big Ten’s Eastern standings with 9 wins and 2 losses overall. Penn State sit mid-table with 7 wins and 4 losses, although this loss against Michigan is their second in a row.
Rating – O’Neill: Besides the touched punt, which he wasn’t entirely to blame for, O’Neill performed well. Whilst many of Michigan fans are still angry at his fumble in Week 7, O’Neill has kept his chin up high and done his job well.
4 out of 5
Rating – Pasquarello – Once again Pasquarello performed well, although he needs to get these shanked kicks out of his game.
3 out of 5
Another Aussie Punter Breaks a Record
It’s actually starting to get a little boring writing about Aussie punters entering record books. Just this year has seen an Aussie set the record for the most punts in a College career, and Jordan Berry recently had the 5th longest punt in NFL history.
But just to add to this list, 2014 Ray Guy Award winner Tom Hackett punted his way into University of Utah record books with the most punting yards in a College career.
Hackett punted his 10,282nd yard this week, exceeding the previous Utah Utes record of 10,188 yards in a career. With at least three more games left in the 2015 season, Hackett is set to add to this total.
It was a good game for Hackett who had 5 punts for with an average of 49.4 yards and 3 inside 20s. This included a monster 67 yard punt which pinned UCLA to their 18 yard line.
— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) November 21, 2015
Tom Hackett, the #Utes best offense. Yep.
— Alex Markham (@AMarkhamRivals) November 21, 2015
Hackett, who is in his senior year, is considered a possible NFL prospect for the 2016 draft. Along with another Aussie, Jamie Keenh, according to CBS’ Draft Prospects it is expected that Hackett should be either a 7th round draft pick or find a team as a free agent.
This pic sums up our special teams perfectly. Everyone is all business, then Tom Hackett over there, just chillin. https://t.co/uaLegyxvkM
— Andrew Vaughn (@tubavaughn) November 16, 2015
Rating – Hackett performs well for the Utes week-after-week. It’s great that he has made his mark in University of Utah history. Accurate and monster punts are always worth extra points too.
4 out of 5
The Aussie Setting College Basketball Alight
I’m not kidding when I say that it is impossible not to mention this guy.
Only three games into his freshman season at LSU, Ben Simmons is already averaging nearly 19 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists per game. The early impact he is having on LSU’s season has lead CBS’ Sam Vecenie to rank him 2nd on his NBA 2016 draft prospects.
Growing up in Melbourne, Ben is the son of Australian NBL player Dave Simmons. At the age of 15 he took a scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport and represented Australia in the Under-17 World Championships. In 2013 Simmons moved to Florida and played High School basketball for Montverde Academy. At Montverde, Simmons won three straight High School Championships and was named MVP for the 2015 event.
In his most recent game for LSU, Simmons racked up his second double-double for the season with 23 points and 16 rebounds.
3 college games, 2 double-doubles. Ben Simmons scores 23 Pts & grabs 16 Reb, No. 23 LSU beats South Alabama, 78-66. pic.twitter.com/558dujIDBR
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 20, 2015
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 20, 2015
— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) November 17, 2015
Simmons looks to have a strong career in front of him. He is revelling in the challenge of moving from high school basketball to college. NBA teams will take note of this and I’m sure there’ll be many teams keen to see him on their 2016 roster.
Rating – With the impact this guy is having, even 5 seems a little too low.
5 out of 5