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Special Teams Make Over

Kwajsker

Recruit
We have added more specialists to this team over the last few months than anyone could have predicted. The additional of a scholarship punter last week and a transfer from LSU really brought to mind how committed they must be to fixing special teams. Is that take right? Does it have as much of the staff's attention as it seems? They must be fully focused on the kicking game.

Other than adding kickers and punters to compete for a single job, I wonder what else they will be doing. More 1st and 2nd stringers on the units? I wonder if it is better to load it up with young talent who doesn't make the 2 deep. Guys who can fully focus in on doing the ST job well.

I also wondered which units needed the biggest upgrades. I ranked them like this:

1.Place Kicker - we were so hampered last season with uncertainty about any FG beyond 20 yards.
2.Kick Coverage - Those kick returns we gave up were back breaking against Iowa and Wisconsin.
3. Kick Return - Was our plan to put our returning on tee and let the other team go off on him each time?
4. Punt Return - We need a guy who is our DPE and the lanes are there for him as well. I don't understand ever trying to block a punt. Just set up your returns. 10 yards per can make a huge difference in a game.
5. Punt Coverage - We were pretty good at that one.
6. Punter - after watching a guy punt backwards, my perception of quality punting will forever be tainted, leaving me fully satisfied this last year.

If ST really cost us three wins last year, (which I do not think it did) then what will it be this next year?
 

TnHusker87

Mayor of Shinola
2 Year Member
Appreciate the post, thread & some positivity Kwaj!

If Offense can rebound, Defense can at least hold their own & ST take a large step forward then I think we’ll go to a bowl even with a rugged stretch run in last five weeks.
 
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DuckTownHusker

Blackshirt Sith Lord
5 Year Member
They really need to get better at blocking on punt returns. I was critical of Spielman as a returner but damn he always had someone gunning for him.
We've had practically zero punt blocking for years. Our best return men in recent years have been big time playmaker guys like Pierson-El and Abdullah.

It's not to say that we should just put any moron back their to field punts, but man alive if we could actually set up some lanes, we might at least return the ball 10-20 yards instead of fair catching every freaking kick, ever. I absolutely HATE fair catches because the absolute best case scenario is that you don't drop the ball and you land exactly where the opponent kicked the ball to. At least when you advance the kick you have a shot at picking up a couple yards, and if you have even a modicum of blocking you can generally muff the punt and still recover it for plus/minus 5 yards from the spot of the kick.

The worst thing is watching NU call a fair catch with the return man surrounded by 5 defenders, and inevitably drop the ball, leading to like a punt+20 yard gain and 1st down for the other team. Hell, I'd rather throw an interception.
 

HuskerFaith

Recruit
I wonder if there is a national stat for number blocked punts and the % rate of blocks. I would imagine it would be small as a whole. But boy howdy what a momentum changer they are. I know there are certain game situations where you have to have a punt block called. I would tend to be more conservative - when there is a definite flaw or tendencies in how the opponent blocks for the punt coaches recognize in their scouting. Otherwise I would set up for the return. Let’s hope the ST analyst has some brilliant ideas for setting up blocking lanes. I agree with Kwajsker that Frost definitely is placing more emphasis on ST (as they should).
 
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Froscht

Recruit
I sure hope this guy finds a spot on ST. I have no idea about his athletic ability but I guarantee you will not find a more determined, never going to out work leader. Just think how good he would have been as the "Wedge breaker" on kick-offs in the older days.

 
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Elwood von Kiowa

Grad Assistant
5 Year Member
We have added more specialists to this team over the last few months than anyone could have predicted. The additional of a scholarship punter last week and a transfer from LSU really brought to mind how committed they must be to fixing special teams. Is that take right? Does it have as much of the staff's attention as it seems? They must be fully focused on the kicking game.

Other than adding kickers and punters to compete for a single job, I wonder what else they will be doing. More 1st and 2nd stringers on the units? I wonder if it is better to load it up with young talent who doesn't make the 2 deep. Guys who can fully focus in on doing the ST job well.

I also wondered which units needed the biggest upgrades. I ranked them like this:

1.Place Kicker - we were so hampered last season with uncertainty about any FG beyond 20 yards.
2.Kick Coverage - Those kick returns we gave up were back breaking against Iowa and Wisconsin.
3. Kick Return - Was our plan to put our returning on tee and let the other team go off on him each time?
4. Punt Return - We need a guy who is our DPE and the lanes are there for him as well. I don't understand ever trying to block a punt. Just set up your returns. 10 yards per can make a huge difference in a game.
5. Punt Coverage - We were pretty good at that one.
6. Punter - after watching a guy punt backwards, my perception of quality punting will forever be tainted, leaving me fully satisfied this last year.

If ST really cost us three wins last year, (which I do not think it did) then what will it be this next year?
Kwaj, great post, but I found something I disagree with you on. A blocked punt can absolutely change a game.

Having said that, they seem to be pretty rare these days. I think for the most part, coaches have figured out punt pro so that blocked punts are less likely. Maybe that's what you were getting at. But I think there are still opportunities.
 

djlhuskerfan

Junior Varsity
10 Year Member
Kwaj, great post, but I found something I disagree with you on. A blocked punt can absolutely change a game.

Having said that, they seem to be pretty rare these days. I think for the most part, coaches have figured out punt pro so that blocked punts are less likely. Maybe that's what you were getting at. But I think there are still opportunities.
Frank Beemer teams excelled at punt blocks!!
 

FBWHEEL

Recruit
Having a kicker that can consistently get the ball to the endzone will be huge. If not at least have some trajectory on the ball to allow the defenders to get down to make a play.

I truly wondered how much time was spent on special teams last year in the film room? If you go back and look at the back breaking TD's on kickoffs from the Wisconsin and Iowa game pay attention to the angles and lanes the defenders were taking (or not taking). Lanes were wide open for the return man and our defenders were squared up and running straight into the blockers instead of trying to fill space. Something that can be easily correctable with time and film.

I am mainly focusing on the kick off coverage. I think Frost has certain players in mind with a certain mentality that he wants for this unit regardless of being a second or third string, walk on, or being a frosh, soph, etc.
 

Kwajsker

Recruit
They have gone so hard for kickers especially, that I think they are going to put a high price on placing kick offs in the right spot. I wonder if these additions are more about kick off even than field goals. It would not surprise me to have one guy focus on kick offs and another doing the field goals and extra points, given the number of kickers we brought in.

Just boot the thing through the end zone and start them on the 25. And, given the way our kick off return was going last year, I would have fair caught every single one with out any other option. If I was a coach I would encourage that every single time, and then try and catch them off guard by returning one or two a game with a planned return call. If I am a blocker and I know "We just got the call to set up the return. It is the one chance we got a game and we are going to catch them off guard here." It would change a lot.

Nothing to sniff at starting at the 25. I wouldn't try and gain field position on kick offs. And I WOULD try and return every single punt, never working for a blocked kick. You probably return them for touchdowns more often than you successfully block one.

Additionally, I would punt it high and toward the sideline every single punt. Why ever give them a chance to return one? To much risk for what? Kick the dang punt out of bounds or make them fair catch it.


But, I don't know the coaches' philosophies, so my own are hardly relevant.
 

Power of Corn

Scout Team
5 Year Member
I've always wondered why out punt rtn team doesnt have all 10 guys block their 10 guys and hold them up for 2 seconds each at the line of scrim. This gives our punt man quite a bit more room to field the ball and possibly a 10 yard cushion to begin.

This would catch so many teams off guard, it would cause kios for the other team who hasnt played against it. Whata got to lose.
 
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