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Clemson vs. The Spirit of Ray Guy: Do Clemson Opponents Really Punt Further Against the Tigers?

Does Ray Guy really haunt the Clemson faithful, or is it just a perception?

NFL Class of 2014 Enshrinement Ceremony Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

There has been a long standing myth that each week, without fail, that Ray Guy will stir from his current retiree life, transmute his spirit, and possess the opposing teams punter. Said possession will lead to punters having the games of their lives against us, leading to booming, towering punts that sail over our returners heads that will often be killed inside the 20 and even 10 yard lines.

But is this perception true? It’s time to dive into the numbers a little and see if we need an exorcism to rid ourselves of this nasty punting demon.

So, starting off with the 2016 season, we can clearly see that Ray Guy’s spirit was clearly out in full force. The first game of the year, Auburn’s punter bested his career long by 12 yards and averaged 3.4 yards more per punt than his prior career average. Impressive.

Ray Guy continued to hang around campus for the next 2 games by using both SCSt and Troy’s punters as conduits to wield his mighty powers. Mid-season however, the trend changes (or Dabo performs an exorcism) and the great grievous punter does not unleash his unholy leg save for a single 80 yard bomb by Dominic Maggio of Wake Forest.

However, just in time for the championship push, the eternal Ray Guy returns in full for to have South Carolina, Virginia Tech, and t0SU all have their punters continually boom punts well over their career averages. Alabama’s punter must have been praying to false idols, as here merely only matched his career punting average.

Now, the law of averages says essentially says that given a large enough sample size, typically all trends will regress to the mean, but how true does that hold to Clemson’s 15 game 2016 season? Instead of going purely binary and saying above average and below average, I have applied a rating system of sorts which is as follows:

Career Day- Greater than 2.5 yards per punt over career average

Above Average- Greater than career punting average but less than 2.5 yards per punt

Average- Square on the nose to career results

Below Average- Less than career punting average, but more than 2.5 yards off career pace

Career Flop- More than 2.5 yards less than career punting average

So, given this scale, how great was Ray Guy’s affect in 2016?

As we can see, in 13 of our games, punters had career days compared to only 1/5 of the games being career flops. The balance below average to average games cancels out, so we need to dive further and get a larger sample size...on to 2017...

Ray Guy begins to get more egregious with the application of his powers in 2017, as he wields some form of power in 9 of 14 games. Even in 3 of the 5 games in which he did not unleash his full power, he allowed the punters to be within 1.1 yards of their typical totals.

Another thing of note in 2017, you can see that only 2 punters bested career longs which tells me two things.

Thing one, these aren’t fluky stats, these guys were consistently booming punts all day long on us, they aren’t getting an 80 yard bomb like Mr. Maggio in 2016 to save their average. No, these dudes are just unleashing a dragon on us every time the uncurl their flossy legs.

Thing two, Ray Guy is kind of a prick by choosing us like this. We kind of knew this already, and it has nothing to do with the data other than it begins to confirm what we knew in our souls to be true.

So, now looking at the 2017 season, how do the punting averages break down?

Ok, wow. 9 career games. 9. Career. Games. I mean, really Ray Guy? Could you be anymore obvious? We jump from 13 of our opponents having other worldly punters to having 3/5 of them uncorking bombs on us.

Oh and to add more insult to injury, the two career flop games? Yeah, those two were the losses to Cuse and Alabama. He knew we were going to be such ass in those two games that he didn’t even bother rolling out of his crypt for those games. He just hit the snooze button and laughed at the box scores.

So, now we are midway through the 2018 regular season. Surely after last years disdain for our program, he has moved on to smite another team, right? Hell to the no.

Just 6 games into 2018, and we see that the ancient and eternal one is still choosing to completely disembowel our sanity by having 4 of 6 punting efforts all be above career marks at this point. And the two that didn’t quite touch those marks? Well, one was 1.1 yards off his career marks and the other only a paltry 0.3 yards from being right at career averages. Disgusting, I tell you.

I mean, just look at that. 3 career games in 6 contests? Granted, that 50% is a tiny bit down from last years 60% mark, but let’s not bring it up too much, otherwise we’re going to have an absolute world of hurt metered out to us this coming weekend. Let’s just try to stay calm and quiet and make it through, ok guys?

Oh yeah, so back to the whole “law of averages” and “regression to the mean” bit from earlier. Is that really happening when Clemson squares off each week to take Ray Guy head on? Nope.

The total games encompassing this analysis, is 35. In 17 of those, we had dudes go absolutely nuts on us. ALMOST 50% ARE AT THE TOP END OF THE PARETO. Oh, and only 1/7 of the disciples of Guy failed to pray the proper prayer, make large lump sum payments to the Greater Augusta Sports Council, or whatever it is that they have do to have Evil Count Guy imbue their soul and thus proceeded to have a flop game.

Maybe one day, Clemson can get a reversal of fortune in the eyes of the Dark Lord Guy, but I won’t be holding my breath on that one. Between Andy Teasdall’s moment of temporary insanity in the ACC Championship game, Will Spier’s inability to be clutch whatsoever, and all the data bore out before us here, I think it’s safe to say that the Omnipotent Malevolent Titan Ray Guy is kind of a jerk.

Ultimately though, Clemson fans, take solace in the fact that no, you weren’t crazy. This data clearly shows that our special teams units are routinely facing insurmountable odds powered by some mystic powers. Eventually, the tide will turn and we may win this cosmic war. But until that day, try to maintain your sanity and as always, Go Tigers.