SOUND IN THE KICKING GAME
Punter Christian Eldred and punt returner A.J. Barker helped the Gophers enjoy a 42.0 to 26.8 edge in net punt average in Saturday's 44-7 victory over New Hampshire -- a big deal, and for good reason, to field-position stickler Jerry Kill. The Gophers averaged almost 8 fewer yards per punt than opponents in 2010 before Kill took over. In 2011, the gap was reduced to about 2 yards per punt, but it still contributed to a field position imbalance:
Average starting field position in two Big Ten victories in 2011 -- Gophers: own 33; opponents: own 27
Average starting field position in six Big Ten losses in 2011 -- Gophers: own 28; opponents: own 33
Average starting field position in Saturday's victory-- Gophers: own 37; New Hampshire: own 28.