Friday, August 6, 2010

Taking Inventory: Special Teams

We come to the end of our inventory today, a day after the Frogs held their first practice. It's now time to take a look at the special teams- an area where the team is solid in a few spots and not so much at others.

Ross Evans returns as the Frogs' kicker once again this year. The junior made 15 of 18 field goals a year ago along with 61 of 63 extra points. Unfortunately for Evans, though, when you miss a big field goal in a pressure situation (or two in his case, in the Utah game in '08), going forward you're going to have fans take notice of your failures a lot more than your successes. That's just the life of a kicker-people demand perfection from them. Senior Kevin Sharples, who handled kick-off duties a year ago, returns in the role and will likely be Evans' back-up.

Joining Evans as a multi-year returning starter is junior punter Anson Kelton. Kelton went through a bit of a sophomore slump last year, averaging just over 37 yards an attempt. But he was fairly proficient at pinning opponents inside their own 20 and should return to the promising form he showed as a freshman. Hopefully, though, he won't have to punt very often. Sophomore Cale Patterson is the only other punter on the roster currently, so he's your default #2 punter.

As usual, the Frogs look to be one of the better kick- and punt-returning teams in the country. They return two players this year who scored touchdowns on returns last year- senior receiver Jeremy Kerley (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!) and junior corner Greg McCoy. They ought to handle most of kicks and punts, but also look for a pair of speedy receivers, Skye Dawson and Josh Boyce, to also get a chance to show off their skills in the return game.

Just as big as is the loss of Jerry Hughes at defensive end, so is the loss of Clint Gresham at deep snapper. He was one of the best around, and will likely be earning a paycheck to snap in the NFL for a long time. The two leading candidates to take his place will be junior Joseph Bates and sophomore Daniel Shelley. Senior receiver Bart Johnson returns as the holder, and Kerley (who handled those duties in '08) could also step in should Johnson not be available.

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