Punter Kyle Schmidt punts the ball during the game against Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 17 in Scheumann Stadium. Schmidt has punted 18 times for a 42.3 yard average this season. Allison Coffin // DN File
Kyle Schmidt embraces role as Ball State punter
There's one player on every football team who only sees the field when things don't go right: the punter.
And for Ball State, it's fifth-year senior Kyle Schmidt.
Punter isn't the most glamorous position, but it's vital for a team to be able to flip field position when the offense stalls. However, if all went according to plan for Ball State head coach Mike Neu, Schmidt would never have to leave the sideline for the Cardinals.
Kyle Schmidt — 2016 stats (4 games)
Punts — 18
Total yards — 762
Average — 42.3
Long punt — 63 yards
Touchbacks — 1
Inside 20 — 5
"I look at Schmidt every day when we're in the game, and I'm like, 'I don't want to see you on the field,'" Neu said at his press conference before last week's game at Florida Atlantic. "'I like you, but I don't want you to play. I want to score touchdowns.' For us, I think the mindset has always got to be that way."
So far, the year is going well for Neu's offense. The Cardinals are averaging 30.8 points and 436.2 yards per game this year, both big improvements from last year.
Schmidt has punted 18 times for a 42.3 yard average (ranked 48th in the FBS) this season. The Chesterton native said it feels like he's been on the field less this year, but he's fine with that — as long as the team keeps up its hot start.
"I tell Riley [Neal] every day, 'Keep me off the field,'" Schmidt said. "If I'm off the field, that means we're moving the ball on offense and scoring touchdowns. You know, I'm a team player. I'll do my job when I'm asked, but I'd love to not have to because that means we're winning football games."
Despite the success of the offense, there have been lulls in each game. Even when Ball State scored a season-high 41 points against Eastern Kentucky, for example, the team went almost a full quarter without scoring.
That's where Schmidt comes in. He has pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line five times this year with only one touchback in the opener against Georgia State.
"I always tell our gunners to be ready for a pin. It doesn't matter where we're at on the field just because that's my mentality," Schmidt said. "I take a lot of pride. Inside the five, I get really greedy with it."
One thing Schmidt isn't greedy about is his playing time. His goal is to win as many games as possible in his senior year — even if that means Riley Neal and the offense never give him the chance to get in the game.
"It's huge with coach Neu," Neal said. "It's definitely a a mindset we've adopted. The line between success and failure is a touchdown, and there's not a a ton of wiggle room."