Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Taking Inventory: Special Teams

As the Frogs know all too well, games can be won or lost on special teams. Just last year, they survived the Poinsettia Bowl partially due to a missed 38-yard field goal by Boise State, and of course every TCU fan remembers what happened against Utah…

Despite his misses from 35 and 26 yards against the Utes, sophomore Ross Evans was pretty solid as a freshman in 2008. He made 80% of his field goals with a long of 50 yards and 89% of his PATs. Obviously, you’d like to see him make 100% of PATs and connect on his FGs when they matter most, and I think he will as he gets older. I’m not much for finger-pointing, but instead of deriding him for being the goat, maybe blame the coaching staff for their lapse in recruiting that pushed a freshman into that situation? Evans didn’t handle kickoffs a year ago, so that job is up in the air. His backup, junior Kevin Sharples, did spell Drew Combs to handle two kickoffs last year, although both of them went out of bounds. That’s a pretty big no-no on kick-offs, so that job is perhaps the biggest question mark on the team as of now.

Sophomore punter Anson Kelton, who is inexplicably Sir Wesley Willis’ favorite player on the team, also returns. As a freshman, he averaged 41.3 yards per punt and put 55% of them inside the 20 yard line. To be perfectly honest, I’m not really sure who his main backup is, but punters NEVER get hurt- right, Cowboys fans?

The most exciting aspect of the Frogs’ special teams has to be junior punt returner Jeremy Kerley. Because he was hurt for part of the season, he only got the chance to return 25 punts a year ago and never broke one for a touchdown, but with his electric athleticism, it’s likely only a matter of time. Nick Sanders and Antoine Hicks both returns a few punts as well. On kickoffs, Ryan Christian is the top returning returner, having averaged 22.3 yards on the six he fielded last year. Speedy sophomore Greg McCoy is another option at kick returner, and true freshmen Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson could factor into the return game in the future..

It’s often said that a deep snapper is doing a great job when nobody hears his name, so it’s a good thing you’ve never heard of the Frogs’ snapper- senior Clint Gresham. He performed well enough last year to get put on scholarship, so there should be no worries about botched snaps on field goals or punts. Sophomore Joseph Bates and redshirt freshman Daniel Shelley will look to replace Gresham after this year. Kerley served as the holder last year, but it’s not known yet whether or not he’ll continue that duty this fall.

Morning Dump

TCU's conditioning program paying off Star-Telegram

Rangers lose top draft pick Matt Purke to TCU Star-Telegram

Dalton named to Manning Award watch list

NCAA football preview: TCU Horned Frogs
Seattle Post Intelligencer

Pressure on defenses in MWC
Deseret News

Lions' Aaron Brown flips into competition at RB Associated Press