Well, it’s finally over. No more of my inane ramblings until at least tomorrow, and no more of my aimless previews. Fortunately for you guys, this one promises to be the best one yet because very few of us, including myself, care a whole lot about special teams. Unfortunately for us, a lot of times you live and die by your special teams (see: Utes, Utah) so they really are a necessary evil and they must be looked at.
TCU – Ross Evans, Drew Combs, Anson Kelton, Jeremy Kerley and Aaron Brown.
Kerley makes tackles get broked
Kicking – Oh Ross Evans. OH Ross Evans. The kid has a lot of upside, yes, and he will certainly make a few big kicks in his career, but… oh man. It’s one thing to miss a few extra points when your team is up by multiple touchdowns… it’s another to blow two chip shot field goals that would have sent your team to the Sugar Bowl. However, that is neither here nor there, so let’s look at what he managed to do for the rest of the season.
On field goals, Evans was 15-19, with a long of 50, which was his first career kick, and which made us all very excited after our years with LoChoco and ManFred. However, he botched two within 30 yards at Utah, then missed another that was under 40 and another which was under 50. Still, pretty good numbers for a freshman, and it’s not like he had too many opportunities since we were in the end zone so often. These will pick up, but he must learn to kick in pressure situations.
On PATs, things get bad. Really bad. Like, 47-53 bad. I can only recall one being blocked as well. A PAT is, what, 20 yards straight down the pipe? I feel like I could make 47-53 of those and I have no experience whatsoever. I am not sure what it was, and I do not understand the dynamics of kicking, but it’s like he locks up on short range kicks. Maybe you have to change your form? I don’t know. This could’ve cost us in the Colorado State game if their receivers had been able to catch and did cost us about 16 million dollars. This MUST improve.
Kick Offs – Never a strong point all year, Senior Drew Combs kicked 78 times for an average of 61 yards of which only 8 went for touchbacks. Our officlal stats list him as having had 4 go out of bounds, but there’s no way that’s accurate because it happened with relative frequency throughout the season. Still, our special teams defense was great all year and never allowed a kickoff return, although I do recall a little punt coverage mishap against Stanford.
Punting – Another freshman on special teams, All MWC Honorable Mention punter Anson Kelton actually did a fantastic job by any standard. He punted 50 times for an average of 42 yards, 27 of which were downed inside the 20, and had 3 fair catches. He also had a long of 58 yards and six of his punts went for over 50 yards. He didn’t have to be used all that often, but he helped our defense out quite a few times by pinning the opposition deep. On the negative side, he did have a punt blocked against Stanford for a TD.
Punt Returns – Freshman Jeremy Kerley never broke the big one and missed some opportunities to do so after being out at the end of the season with an injury, but he still managed a 14.5 yards average with a 53 yard long. These numbers were good enough to earn him first team all MWC honors. In his absence, Nick Sanders and Aaron Brown filled in putting up respective 9.6 and 5.0 yard averages.
Kick Returns – I am really just going to mention Aaron Brown in this because Hodge was back as a blocker and Christian only returned kicks when Brown was out. Brown returned 15 kicks (so few because, well, our defense didn’t let many folks score) for an average of 31.9 yards and the big touchdown run against Wyoming. He also returned a big one against OU and should’ve had another against BYU. He ended up being named an honorable mention MWC kick return man. TCU was second in the nation in overall kick return average with 27.0
Special Teams Coverage – Against the punt, TCU only allowed 7.7 yards per return; against the kick, 19.0. The Frogs allowed one TD on a punt block return.
Boise State – Kyle Brotzman, Jeremy Avery, Doug Martin, Kyle Wilson
That's a horse kicking a field goal because that's what I imagine it to be.
Kicking – All WAC second teamer Kyle Brotzman is the do-it-all special teamsman for the Broncos, taking care of punts, kickoffs and place kicking duties. Perhaps we should find ourselves one of those and free up two scholarships? In all reality though, maybe they should’ve looked elsewhere for a place kicker, as Brotzman was only 16-22 on the season, with all of his misses falling between 30-50 yards. Fortunately for Boise, this did not cost them any games, but in a game like tomorrow, it really may come down to Brotzman or Evans sealing the deal. Unlike Evans, however, Brotzman understands how to put easy points on the board and went 49-49 on his PATs. He also had a long FG of 51 yards and had one blocked.
Kickoffs – Brotzman had 84 kickoffs for a 64.1 yards average with 13 touchbacks and only two going out of bounds. Watch and learn, Combs.
Punting – Again, Brotzman took care of the punting duties, ending up with a 45.5 yard average, including a booming long of 75, four touchbacks, one fair catch and 13 inside the 20.
Kick Returns – It looks like Jeremy Avery and Doug Martin were pretty evenly split on taking kick returns. Avery led the team with 7 returns for an average of 28.4 yards and Martin had 10 returns for 21.2. Ian Johnson handled duties three different times for a 24.7 yard average. None of their return men had a touchdown. Like the Frogs, though, their defense kept opposing offenses out of the end zone so they had few opportunities.
Punt Returns – Kyle Wilson really shined in the punt return position, fielding 32 punts for an average of 14.7 yards and three TDs.
Special Teams Coverage - Against the punt, Boise only allowed 5.5 yards per return; against the kick, 19.4. They gave up no touchdowns on special teams.
Overall – As I mentioned, I am no special teams guru by any means, so I am going to just match all of the units up side by side and make a mostly unbiased pick.
Kicking – FGs are a push, but Boise wins the PAT comparison. Therefore, Boise
Kickoffs – I don’t even need to look at the stats, Boise.
Punting – Brotzman had the bigger leg, but Kelton was more accurate in pinning opponents deep. I’m calling a push.
Kick Returns – Hard to call. Boise has more weapons, but none were able to take it to the house. Hodge isn’t going to scare anyone with his returns, but AB is better than anyone on Boise at returning kicks. I’ll go with the Frogs
Punt Returns – Kerley may be first team all conference, but he’s still young and has a ways to improve. Wilson is a threat every single time he touches the ball. Boise.
Tally – TCU 1.5, Boise 3.5
Edge – Boise.