No. 59 Matt Payne – Punter/FG Kicker – 2001, 2003-2004
Matt Payne was the one of a very few bright spots during the Gary Crowton era. Perhaps part of the reason he was as good as he was can be attributed to how bad the offense was at scoring and stalling 20-35 yards before reaching the endzone or not even reaching midfield.
That is sort of the beauty and unfortunate side of being a kicker. Unless it is the end of the game and the team has intentionally set up for a field goal or if it is for an extra point, whenever a kicker either for a punt or field goal comes onto the field it means the team fell short. That is why nobody really likes kickers. It means the team failed to march down the field and score six points.
Although he was a really good punter, his ranking as BYU’s 59th best player of all time comes as a placekicker mostly. There hasn’t been a kicker since Payne that I at least have felt confident in making field goals beyond…extra points. Hopefully that changes in 2019.
Payne’s impact could have been bigger than it actually was except that he missed a couple of potential game winning field goals including a tough 38 yarder against New Mexico. Overall however, Payne became a big part of the offense, not special teams in scoring points and securing terrible field position for the opponents following his long punts. He also converted multiple fakes/bad snap fourth down conversions.
Look here, one of our first A’s! When looking at punters/kickers at BYU, Payne is near the top in just about every category. He holds:
- Six of the top nine longest made field goals ever for BYU with a long of 53 (three times)
- Third and seventh longest punt (79 and 76 yards)
- Second for most field goals ever made (54)
- Second in highest PCT of field goals in a season (82%)
- Sixth for a field goal PCT for a career (74%)
The only statistic that is hurting is that his career percentage is hurt a bit with being sixth as opposed to top three. Much of that can be blamed on him missing his final four field goal attempts as a senior which dropped his ranking from third place down to sixth.
Memorable Moments B-
The six field goals of 52 or 53 yards are memorable in themselves. Never before or since has BYU had a kicker who could hit those relatively consistent. His field goals ended up being the difference in only two games (BYU was pretty bad). He missed at least one game winning field goal against New Mexico which caused a missed opportunity at a memorable moment. Something I do remember was his quick decision making. Unlike a lot of punters who look like deer in the headlights when a snap is high or a block is going to happen, Payne reacted and got out quick converting quite a few 4th down conversions.
Surprisingly, his most memorable moments that still make highlights today was his hard hitting on kick coverage. The most famous came against Boise State, see below: