Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Football Review: Special Teams, Kickoff and Punt Returns

Moving through the special teams, we hit an area that I think had some significant improvement this year, which was kickoff returns this year.  We'll cover punt returns, but the way people punt in the college game today has largely removed the punt return as a major factor in games.

BG was 10th in the MAC in 2010 with about 18 yards per kickoff return (conference only).  This year, BG vaulted to 2nd with 22 yards per return.  This is largely the result of the work of Boo Boo Gates, who as an individual was 4th in the MAC and he was the second team kickoff return specialist

It didn't add to too much on the yard lines, as BG in 2011 started, on average, on the 29 yard line following a kickoff and the MAC average was 28.

Still, to me the more important issue is how many big returns did we get, and it seemed like more.  We had one touchdown both years, but kickoff returns can make a huge difference when you score (obviously) or give the offense a short field.

As for punt returns, BG's average fell from 8.9 to 7.3 yards per return, however we're only talking about 11-13 returns per year and even finishing second in the conference would only have yielded 2 yards per return.  There were only 2 punt returns for TD in the MAC in 2011.

As far as I'm concerned, if the punt returner catches the ball and doesn't fumble, I'm more or less happy.

Anyway, Boo Boo did a little punt returning for us, so he may handle both duties next year, or we have a some young guys who might be able to do it, too.  I'd say that the return game is rounding into shape as part of special teams that were--in total--solid this year.

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