Donahue Can Hang, Wants More Distance

Ryan Donahue has become one of the most established members of the Iowa program. The true junior enters his third season in campus ranked among nine other punters nationally on the Ray Guy watch list, an award given to the country's top player at the position. Donahue talked about being among the select group, what's he's worked on in the offseason and more in this HN.com interview transcript.

Q: You're kind of established right now, maybe one of the more established guys on the team. What has been the key for you getting to this point?

Ryan Donahue: Definitely consistency is a key for every aspect of the game. I see myself as just part of the team. I see myself just trying to help our net punting and trying to get the ball down the field to help out our defense as much as possible. I hope I've established myself in trying to help the defense.

Q: What does it mean to you to be on that Ray Guy Watch List?

RD: To me it doesn't really mean anything. It's just a preseason thing. Just like preseason rankings, they don't mean anything.

Q: Kickers and punters seem to get most of their attention when they mess up. Is the fear of messing up something that keeps you focused?

RD: Of course if you have a shanked punt, everyone knows it. My dad was joking with me the other day that he almost caught one of my punts in the stands. There's a huge mental side to everything. When I go out there, I just try to relax and kick balls. People try to make it out to be so hard, but really all you have to do is relax and do what you do in practice. You can't over think things. You just go out there and do the best you can. If it turns out poorly, you go out and kick it better next time.

Q: When you came in, there was a chance you might kick and punt? Are you happy that you've settled in at punter?

RD: Absolutely. Anyone can be a kicker. I joke with them all of the time. I always tell them that punters have the hard jobs. I'm happy with my position on the team. The kickers, Trent (Mossbrucker) and (Daniel) Murray, they've got everything going for them. I've tried to help them out as much as possible.

Q: What is the fraternity of punters and kickers from this school like? Have you gotten a chance to meet and talk to Nate Kaeding and Jason Baker and guys like that?

RD: Oh yeah. Baker and Nate come back. Baker helps me. Kaeding helps Trent and Murray. I ask (Baker) for advice up and down the board; steps, technique, everything; drop, very single thing. He's definitely a mentor for me.

Q: Have you found out a way to block out the fans, especially on the road? How do you do in the games what you do in practice?

RD: Well, we've been in some tough situations. We've been at Iowa State. We've been all over the place. I think of the game when I'm practicing; the loudest environment possible and just block it out. When it transfers over to the game, I don't hear a thing.

Q: What were the key areas that you worked on this offseason?

RD: I wanted to work on my distance. Hang time is there for me. I pride myself in hang time. But distance, I'm looking forward to getting a little bit more on it.

Q: It seems like punters often are measured by their average. Is that misguided?

RD: Well, the average definitely does not reflect hang time. You pretty much have to look at your net average. If you hit a ball for five seconds in the air, your coverage team is going to down it. That's why I look at net average more than anything. You can have a 60-yard average, but if it's a 30-yard net, it's no good. But really, it's all situational.

Q: What's your view of the kicking competition? You hold for both guys.

RD: It's not too difficult. They both like their balls held a certain way. I just try to do what they ask and try to make both of them better at the same time.

Q: Can you envision a scenario where we'll see both of those guys on the field this year?

RD: Yeah, I mean last year they shared it shared it a little. This year, we'll see how camp goes. Usually there's one that steps up. Last camp, they both stepped up and had about the same average going into the season.