April 10, 2007

Q&A with punter Matt DiLallo

Matt DiLallo had an up-and-down redshirt freshman campaign as the Buffaloes' punter. But his final numbers were solid. The former Wellington (Fla.) High prepster finished fourth in the Big 12 and 15th in the NCAA with a 43.7 yard punting average.

He was a Rivals.com Freshman All-American and a Freshman All-Big 12 honoree by the Sporting News.

DiLallo, who has been booming his punts this spring, took time out to talk with Rivals.com following Monday afternoon's practice:

Did you feel progressively more comfortable out there as last season wore on and you got some experience under your belt?

Matthew DiLallo: "Yeah, I definitely got more comfortable as the season went on. I obviously didn't have any game time experience my freshman year when I redshirted, so that first time when I went out in front of 60,000 fans, it was a little nerve wrecking. I just got used to it as the season went on."

Looking back to last season how would you assess your play? Overall were you happy with your progress and where you ended the season at?
"I ended on a real good note. I had a real good last game. But I wasn't quite as consistent as I want to be. So I can do a lot better, there is a lot of room for improvement."

You mentioned your redshirt year� getting a chance to practice with and watch John Torp, was that a valuable experience?
"Yeah, it was valuable just watching him go about practices. In high school I used to kick just constantly and my leg would be kicked out by the end of the week. Him and Mason [Crosby] both helped me with that. Sometimes you just need to take it easy, just kick 20-30 balls and stop whether it's good or bad."

Talk about spring practices for a punter or kicker. You guys obviously have a lot of dead time out here. Is it kind of hard to stay focused?
"We ride the bike, we'll do different drills, I'll take snaps, have people throw me balls, go through motions, stuff like that. We don't necessarily kick the whole time, but we do something to stay active. Sometimes we'll play scout team for the offense."

Is Kent Riddle the coach that you have meetings with and get advice from?
"He is kind of the kicking coach. He will tell us if we are over striding our drop offs or if we are taking the wrong steps. We go to special teams meetings every day before practice so we watch the film from previous practices and scrimmages and he just lets us know what he wants us to do better."

In the summer or any other time in the off-season is there a punting coach that you work with?
"I have a few. I have a mentor, my little brother's soccer coach played in college and he got me started with the whole kicking thing. And then I go to Mike McCabe every now and then. He was in Fort Lauderdale but I think he is Alabama now."

This off-season is there anything specifically with your punting that you are trying to improve?
"Definitely hang time. I had distance last year but not enough hang time so I'm working on getting the ball up in the 4.5, 4.6 hang time range."

Coming from Florida, what was the hardest thing to adjust to as far as punting in Boulder. You have the elevation to your advantage but you also have to deal with cold weather from time to time.
"I would say the cold weather was the hardest thing to adjust to. Cold weather is my enemy, my nemesis. I just can't stand it. I have adjusted a little bit and I'm starting to get used to it. But still every time I see snow, I kind of cringe and I don't want to get out of bed in the morning."

How much of a difference does the elevation make? Does it add much distance to your punts?
"I feel it is kind of overrated. Mason felt that same way, all of us feel the same way. I think it kind of hurts us in the long run as far as kicking. Everyone is like, 'Oh, he kicked a 60-yarder but he is in evaluation so it doesn't count'."

What are your goals for the 2007 season?
"I want to net average at least 45 yards [a punt] and finish in the top five for the Ray Guy Award."

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