NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops views punter Tress Way as a difference maker, capable of “flipping the field,” turning around bad field position for the defense.
Way finished third in the country his freshman year. Last season, the average dipped slightly, and he ranked 21st.
This season, he hopes to be a Ray Guy Award finalist. He believes it's a realistic goal, thanks to a tip from a teammate's father.
Last spring, Mike Winchester, a former OU punter, father of deep snapper James Winchester, suggested Way compare film to his freshman year.
“Oh my gosh, it was night and day,” Way said. “It was awful. My mechanics were horrible. I was swinging completely across my body. It's kind of if you watched me do a kickoff, it was the same swing. Even the (punts) I hit good I was pulling right.”
After working six months on his mechanics, Way is back on track. In fall camp, Stoops said Way has hit more 70-yard punts than 50-yarders.
But Way always is capable of booming a long one. Last season, the issue was inconsistency.
Way's average (44.0 yards per punt) was solid. But he had 18 punts under 40 yards.
In the Big 12 title game, Way shanked one midway through the fourth quarter to give Nebraska good field position. OU's defense bailed him out.
In a loss at Texas A&M, Way averaged 34.6 yards on five punts. He had punts of 27, 25 and 27 yards.
Way also had a season worst 17-yard punt against Texas.
“It's always fun when you silence the crowd with a 65- or 70-yarder,” Way said. “But the key is consistency. I know it's where you are on the field as to how far you can kick it. But I know I have the ability to hit the ball 47 to 48 yards every time.”
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