The most visible manifestation of this is placekicking. It is a simple fact that sometimes, a FG is vital to winning. Sometimes it puts the game out of reach, and sometimes it can win the game. BG lost two games, in fact, last season, based on struggles with FG kicking. BG was last in the MAC in FGs made and FG%. We made only 5 FGs for the year and missed 8. Our longest FG of the season was 34 yards. We were 12th in PAT% as well, with 4 missed. I can't remember the exact words, but Coach Clawson said something like "our inability to make a field goal is embarrassing."
The response to that was recruiting a kicker, something that Coach Clawson was mentioning when Fall Camp started. However, since then, all the reports from camp have only mentioned the two incumbent kickers, and not the recruit but Tate is listed as the leader on the depth chart in the media guide. I don't know what is up with that, if anything. Hopefully, one of them will improve enough to give us some consistent placekicking. Even the confidence you can drill a FG inside 40 yards would be huge in late game situations.
Punting was not an issue last year, as Bryan Wright came down from Ann Arbor and saved our bacon. He was third in the MAC. He's gone, now, and I think everyone assumed the Findlay transfer Brian Schmeidebusch would be the guy based on his numbers there, but he is listed behind Jerry Phillips on the depth chart. Phillips has been around the program for a while, and actually lost the job to Wright last season, so I think, in fairness, you have to list punting as a question mark until we see something...finished in the top teams in the MAC would not seem likely, but you never know.
Kickoff returns were awful last year. BG was last in the MAC. We've certainly recruited speed, and I'd like to think we have a shot at improving this number. We averaged about 18 yards, but BooBoo Gates averaged 24 and a TD. He will be back there with Jovon Leacock (based on the depth chart), who didn't return any last year. Either way, I'm not so worried about starting at the 28 or the 32 as I am about the occasional ability to give our offense a short field to work with.
Punt returns were very good. BG was second in the MAC and had 2 TDs. (The whole conference only had 6). Eugene Cooper had 95% of our returns, and he's back, so this appears to be a position of strength.
In terms of kickoff coverage, we were 4th in the MAC, which again is pretty good. As we get stronger on defense, we should improve here as well. We did get nice depth out of Bryan Wright last year (63 per kickoff and 11 TBs), so we will have to see what our new kickers are able to produce. Again, this can really matter. Nothing kills momentum like getting a score and then giving up a big kickoff return.
As mentioned above, BG was third in net punting. We had one blocked punt.
Special teams has been a frustrating element of our program since the very early days of Urban Meyer, when we were assassins on special teams. They have been inconsistent and sometimes downright bad, and it has cost us games, even last season. They did improve, however, last year, based on research conducted by the International Centre for Special Teams Research. FG and punting remain concerns until we see something to indicate they are under control.