With its offense struggling to move the ball in its loss to Troy, Missouri had many opportunities to evaluate punter Brock Harvey.
With the exception of a blocked punt in the third quarter, Harvey had an excellent game, averaging 45.3 yards on seven kicks, pinning the Trojans inside their 20-yard line once and kicking his longest punt 53 yards.
The punting game has been much improved from last year when Harvey went 36.8 yards per punt.
After having surgery on his right, kicking foot in the offseason that stopped him from full participation in spring practices, Harvey had a consistent start this season.
The blocked punt against Troy dramatically lowered the team’s punting average, placing them 10th in the Big 12 Conference at 36.6 yards per punt.
Harvey’s personal average, though, is 44.2 yards, which would make Missouri second in the Big 12 without the block.
“You never want to be satisfied with what you did, but I felt it was pretty satisfactory overall, other than that one being blocked,” Harvey said Monday.
Coach Gary Pinkel said the blocked punt was the result of missed coverage, allowing Trojans’ linebacker Bernard Davis to run through untouched.
Troy’s tough defense often put Harvey in difficult punting situations and Trojan punter Thomas Olmsted had two punts that trapped Missouri inside its own 5-yard line in the second half, forcing Harvey to punt out of his own end zone or deep in Missouri territory.
“If you’re pinned up against that goal line or pinned farther back, you have to understand that this ball’s got to get off fast,” Harvey said. “We have different lineups for where we are on the field. There’s definitely more sense of urgency when you’re farther back there, that they’re going to be coming harder and you have to get that thing off.”
Harvey entered preseason practices having worked mostly on his strength and conditioning in the offseason and practiced his form without a real ball, sometimes using a Nerf ball as a substitute while his foot healed.
Early in preseason camp it appeared there was going to be a close competition for punter between Harvey and sophomore Matt Hoenes. Harvey improved steadily as the preseason progressed, though, and the senior’s experience put him in the starting position for the fourth straight year.
Pinkel said Harvey was one of the more consistent aspects of the team in the difficult loss to the Trojans.
“The first game he only kicked it one time, and he kicked it inside (Arkansas State’s) five-yard line,” Pinkel said. “I was very pleased, I thought he did a good job (against Troy). Overall I thought he did an excellent job and I’m very pleased with his progress.”
Harvey credited his solid performance this season with an improvement in his technique and not improvement in the health of his foot.
He said it is hard to determine if the surgery gave him more power or even lessened the pain from last season.
“It’ll get sore, you know, if I sit around and then get up, it’ll get sore,” Harvey said. “It’s something that I’ve learned to deal with and it’s not going to go away.”