LOUISVILLE — Sam Vander Haar edged out Cam Guess over the offseason to win the vacant punter role in Pitt’s special teams’ unit, but Vander Haar’s adaption to American football left a lot to be desired.
Vander Haar, a 24-year-old Australian still learning the game, ranked at or near the bottom in the ACC when it came to all punting metrics entering the Louisville game, and Pat Narduzzi noticed.
“We were thinking about making a change to begin with at that spot, hadn’t been happy with our net punting all season, and I think Cam did a little bit better today,” Narduzzi said following Pitt’s loss to Louisville.
“I think he had one short one, but we’ll continue to work on that phase of our game.”
Guess punted four times against Louisville, racking up 150 yards (37.5 average) with a 41-yard long. He pinned Louisville inside the 20-yard line once. It wasn’t a perfect day for Guess, but it was a solid debut.
And, with just a 33 average net entering Saturday, Guess’s performance did raise Pitt’s season average. Vander Haar is Pitt’s only scholarship punter, so he will be expected to start during his time in Pittsburgh, but Guess has clearly worked his way into the equation this season.
After years of consistency from former starter Kirk Christodoulou, Pitt is experiencing the growing pains of breaking in a new punter.