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Indiana football punter James Evans’ improvement could be big boost for special teams



Indiana Football James Evans
Indiana football punter James Evans had a big day Saturday against Ohio State and he could be a weapon for Indiana moving forward. (Indiana Football)

Indiana football showed some fight in its week one loss to Ohio State this past weekend.

Coming into the game as heavy underdogs, the Hoosiers were able to keep the Buckeye offense in check by only allowing 23 points. Despite a poor offensive performance, their defensive play helped them to stay competitive into the second half of the game.

Read: Indiana football defense shines in opener against Ohio State

Indiana struggled to move the ball all game but did not give OSU much of an advantage in starting field position. That was largely because of the play of Indiana junior punter James Evans.

Evans averaged over 54 yards per punt on his six punts Saturday, including a 60 yarder. The New Zealander is looking to improve his average distance for the second consecutive season. In 2020, Evans averaged 41.9 yards per punt. That average improved in 2021 to 44.3 yards per punt.

As a punter, Evans is only able to affect the game on a handful of snaps each game. In spite of that, he made his impact felt with his punts on Saturday.

“I think I was only on the field like seven snaps on Saturday but trying to do whatever you can to help the team win,” Evans said about his week one performance. “It feels pretty good if you do make a good play and help the team.”

His ability to pin the opposing offense deep will be a critical weapon for the Indiana defense this season. Coach Tom Allen and co-defensive coordinator Matt Guerrieri have recognized the impact and value Evans provides Indiana football.

“As a matter of fact, Coach Guerrieri, when he came and joined us, he’s like, man, that’s the best punter I’ve ever seen on any team I’ve ever been a part of. And I would agree, because he continues to get better,” Allen said about Evans after Saturday’s game. “Big weapon for us. And obviously, he’s got to do his job consistently well. And it helps us flip the field. So we got to have everybody doing their job at a high level to win in this conference.”

Related: Indiana football punter James Evans named to week 1 Ray’s 8 List for top punter in country

Evans has been one of the hardest workers since he got to Indiana in 2021. So much so that Allen has had to tell him to stop kicking as much as he does during the offseason.

“He works his tail off. Every year he just keeps getting better. So I’m really proud of him,” Allen said postgame. “He’s one of those guys I got to tell him, like I said this year, I got to tell him to stop kicking. He tries to kick way too much in the offseason, summer time. But he’s such a hard worker, he cares so much.”

His work ethic has clearly translated to the game.

After a big day on Saturday, Allen will be looking for Evans to build on his performance and make it the standard moving forward in the season.

“Yeah, my big thing for him is consistency,” Allen said Saturday. “He was excellent today. …  [I am] not at all surprised.”

SEE ALSO: Indiana Football Week 2 Stock Report: Who’s trending up? Who’s trending down?

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Drew Rosenberg is a staff writer for and hosts 'The Talkin' Bout the Hoosiers Podcast' covering Indiana University athletics. Drew graduated from Indiana University's Sports Media program in 2024.