Competition in Montreal
Punter/Kicker Matt Mengel is looking to the CFL for his next opportunity. Matt is currently in camp with the Montreal Alouettes. Mengel is not being handed the job by any stretch.
He will be competing with 3rd round Global Draft pick, and Australian Rules Punter Kirk Christodoulou. Australian rules punters have become fairly popular to select due to how applicable their skills are. However, Christodoulou will have his work cut out for him competing with Mengel, and incumbent Joesph Zema.
The important thing to note here is that Zema was a rookie himself in 2021. He came to the Alouettes from Australian Rules Football as well. Last season as the only punter for the Als, he attempted 90 punts, for 4,071 yards and a 45.2-yard average. His long of 67 yards was impressive.
Special Teams Player of the Week
If we look back just three weeks ago, Matt Mengel was winning Special Teams Player of the Week in the USFL, hitting 4 of 5 field goals, 3 of 3 extra points, punted 1 time for 41 yards and handled kickoffs. He was the best dual specialist in the league. Yet the Stars released him immediately following this performance.
However, if you are a team like the Alouettes, you should be looking at his performance in the USFL most recently, and seeing promise. As mentioned above, Mengel served in all three kicking roles for the Alouettes. Kicking, punting, and kickoffs.
Opening for Kickoff Specialist?
Last season David Cote made 32 of 34 extra points, and 32 of 39 field goals. He also handled kickoffs and averaged just 59.8 yards per kickoff and a long of 73. This is where Matt Mengel thrives. Flipping field position is his specialty.
On kick-offs, Mengel had 21 attempts for 1,356 yards in the USFL through four weeks. This breaks down to an average of 64.6 yards per attempt. That’s considering this man was attempting EVERY KICK or PUNT for the team. Assuming the Alouettes are happy with Cote, why not bring in a punter, that can also handle kick-offs. This would allow Cote, a rookie in 2021, to focus on perfecting his kicking.
Closer Look at the Numbers
If you’re concerned about Mengel serving as the kickoff specialist, and the punter…have no fear. With the USFL, Mengel was able to average 40.2 yards per attempt with a long of 55 yards. Now the majority of fans will look at that and say…his average is over 5 yards less, and his long was 12 yards less. While on the surface that is true….
Let me point out some trends.
In week 1 Mengel averaged 46.5 yards per punt, with a long of 51 on 2 attempts with 1 landing inside the 20.
-USFL Makes changes to balls. Dedicated kicking balls begin to be used.
Week 2: averaged 35 yards per punt with a long of 53 on 5 attempts with 3 landing inside the 20.
Week 3: averaged 44.3 yards per punt with 1 touchback and a long of 55 yards on 3 attempts.
Week 4: averaged 41 yards per punt on 1 attempt with it landing inside the 20.
Facts to Consider
So in week 2, his punt average dropped by nearly 4 yards due to game situations calling for the “Coffin Corner” punt. This is a technique where a punter aims toward the sideline and attempts to land the ball out of bounds inside the 20-yard line. Mengel was able to do this three out of five times in that game, and still managed a long of 53 yards. His average if you eliminate this game? 43.9. Not all that far removed from the performance of Zema, who has not handled kickoffs at any point.
If you look at week 4 when his average was 41 yards on his only attempt, same situation. He had 1 attempt all game, and despite it only traveling 41 yards, he pinned the opposing team within their 20 once again. So to keep score for those at home: 11 punt attempts, 5 landed inside the 20, and 1 touchback. If he wasn’t asked to strategically punt shorter in these situations, it would have placed his average at….drumroll please….45.4 yards per attempt, just above the 45.2 average of Zema.
Triple Threat Specialist
One thing that always needs to be considered with Mengel is his ability to step in as needed at kicker too. How many times over the years have we seen players who do not play kicker, end up lining up to attempt kicks in-game because the punter simply can’t step in when called upon?
I witnessed it with my Philadelphia Eagles when Kamu Grugier-Hill was called on to handle kickoffs for the Eagles back in 2017 amidst a Super Bowl run. Now imagine, god forbid, that Cote gets banged up in a game. You’re in a tight match-up and need to continue to count on the kicking game to finish out the game.
Are you feeling comfortable with Joesph Zema, a man who until last season had never played traditional rule football? Are you trotting out a linebacker to handle kickoffs? Or are you looking to Mengel? A guy who in week 4 scored 14 points, handled punts, and kickoffs?
Career Long Goal
Mengel is a guy who has been a dual-threat specialist back to his days in community college. During that stretch, he was again his team’s main punter attempting 87 punts, 23 field goals, and 85 extra points. He, of course, handled kickoffs and even got in the mix making some tackles and collecting 13 along the way. Between college and the USFL, he attempted exactly 211 punts, with 67 punts landing inside the 20-yard line.
Regardless of what happens Montreal will need to consider its options carefully. In 2021 they went 7-7, but their talent level on both sides of the ball was better than their record. Can they rebound in 2022, on the strength of their offseason? Will Mengel be a part of that turn-around? Only time will tell, and you can be sure we will be covering it here at CFLnewshub.com. Also check out below as Matt Mengel talks about the coaching he received from guys like Nick Novak and John Carney.
Huge shout out to the guys at
Both sites are great resources for information about college, and alternative league stats.
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