Amidst a season of rebuilding and disappointment for the men’s football team, punter Kyle Cazzetta’s ’15 improvement has shone through as a bright spot for the Bulldogs (2–7, 1–5 Ivy). After a freshman season in which he averaged 35.2 yards per punt with a long of 61 yards, Cazzetta’s sophomore season average distance has increased to 40.1 yards with a long of 72. Cazzetta had a breakout performance on Nov. 3 in Yale’s 20–0 loss to Brown, in which he averaged more than 46 yards per punt on seven punts and debuted a rugby-style kick that helped him record the second-longest punt in the Ivy League this year. The News caught up with Cazzetta to discuss the Elis’ season, his improvement and this Saturday’s game at Harvard.
Q: It’s been a tough season so far. What’s the general feeling in the locker room right now among the players?
A: Every year Harvard’s a big game no matter what, so we have high spirits still, still want to go out and ruin Harvard’s season, let them not have a shot at sharing the Ivy League title … It’s a big rivalry so we want to win this one for the school. We’ve been losing to them for I’m not sure how many years it is now, but we want to change that around.
Q: This is the team’s first year with head coach Tony Reno. He comes from a big special teams background. Is that something you notice as a big part of the special teams units?
A: Yeah. Specifically for me, it’s been good because most head coaches don’t spend a lot of time with kickers. But the kickers and punters for us — we’re with him for at least 10 minutes a day on our own. He gives us a lot of attention, and really, it shows.
Q: You’ve increased your average distance by about five yards this year, and your longest punt this year is almost 10 yards longer than you longest punt last year. To what do you attribute that improvement?
A: For the most part it’s been consistency for me. I’ve matured a little more. I know how to use the wind better here in New England … and the rugby punting stuff has worked for us when we’ve used it.
Q: Tell me a little bit about the rugby package. When did you guys start working on it and whose idea was it?
A: It was the coach’s idea. We started working on it probably two weeks ago, and it’s just something to give us an extra edge late in the season. It can get really windy in the Bowl, get really windy at Harvard’s stadium, so it can be more effective to use that rather than putting the ball up in the air.
Q: I think the first game you guys used it was the Brown game. What do you remember from that game?
A: I guess the thing I remember was pinning them deep — what was it, four [times] inside of the 10? … It’s real tough for a team to drive 90 plus yards, so I remember it really helping out the defense and giving them a shot.
Q: This will be your second Harvard-Yale game. What do you remember from last year’s contest?
A: Last year, I remember coming out. Everything was good for us at first and everything felt right, and I thought it was going to be a good day … [but] we just kind of fell off. And we’ve just got to keep the mentality and focus that we had at the beginning last year and play it all the way through.
Q: What are you looking forward to in Saturday’s game?
A: I’ll just say I’m looking forward to beating Harvard at Harvard and spoiling their season.
Q: After Saturday’s game it’s the end of the season. When you look back, what are you going to remember about this year?
A: I’m definitely going to remember all the changes that were made, and it’s been a different year with the new coaching staff. It looks negative to most people, but we’ve definitely made a lot of positive gains, and it should be good in the future. I’m definitely going to look [at] how the program changed and what we did better and how we’re going to look in the future.