Special Teams & Redemption

By Paul Sykes

They get the least recognition on a football team, the players responsible for the kicking and return aspects of games. They are the special tetoeams, and they can make you or break you.

Think about it.  Fans usually groan when we have to punt, hope our guy doesn’t fumble a punt, yawn through an extra point and argue about going for it on fourth down. We love the long breakaway runs when we create them, and shudder when the opponent does them.

Last season, remember, the University of Louisville football team created a lot of anticipation when special teams took the field. Not much of it borne from confidence.

Chris Philpott will likely handle the kickoff duties and placekicking in the game opener. The sophomore had less than a stellar season in 2008 but reports from practice indicate his leg is stronger. He’s also reaching the end zone on kickoffs with a little more regularity. Not much surveillance on his field goal accuracy, however.

How is coverage on the returner on punts? Are we reaching the end zone with consistency on kickoffs? Is the punt return team getting pressure on the punter?

Cory Goettsche, a senior punter, got off several boomers last year but needs to work on his coffin corner placement. At least Cory has experience and has played in front of all kinds of fan bases and in all kinds of weather.

Four different players may return kickoffs and punts. Speed burner Trent Guy and Doug Beaumont for punts and Bilal Powell and Vic Anderson on kickoffs. Guy is deceptive and dangerous in either role, the others quick enough to make something happen if blocking schemes work.

Fans likely won’t learn much about the effectiveness of the special teams against Indiana State, but there will be things to watch. How is coverage on the returner on punts? Are we reaching the end zone with consistency on kickoffs? Is the punt return team getting pressure on the punter? Is anything outside the 25-yard line a viable option for a field goal on fourth down?

Make it happen guys. Position is everything.

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Former Lady Card Kristin Mattox is one of six former athletes selected for U of L’s Hall of Fame. See Sonja’s commentary here.

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Paul Sykes

Paul Sykes owns Paul Sykes Advertising and does contract work for other advertising and publishing firms. The proud husband of Sonja, he has a fascination with bears, bars and Cardinal sports. He's also the moderator of CardinalCouple.blogspot.com

5 thoughts on “Special Teams & Redemption

  • September 2, 2009 at 10:12 pm
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    “They get the least recognition on a football team, the players responsible for the kicking and return aspects of games.” No, they don’t — that would be the offensive linemen.

  • September 3, 2009 at 5:53 am
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    Don’t forget Ryan Payne….you’ll see that bare foot before long…

  • September 3, 2009 at 6:10 am
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    And, by the way, that was a great article you did on Ryan, Frank. In case the readers aren’t aware of the site, be sure to check out Frank’s blog…Hell in the Hall. You can access it from this site, just click on it over on Card Sites.

    If Philpott is ineffective, Payne will get his chance.

  • September 3, 2009 at 6:16 am
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    The UofL linemen received their fair share of discussion last year because of the stellar play of Eric Wood and George Bussey. Both are in the NFL now. Offensive linemen see 3-1 or better playing time than the special units.

    I tend to pay extra attention to the hogs up front, because I doubled as one “back in the day” and I have a god son who is one here locally at Seneca High School. Also, if one jumps the snap count or is a little too much “hands on” during a play…we’re all painfully aware of the big hosses who block and protect.

  • September 3, 2009 at 10:05 am
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    The kicking game is going to be UofL’s achilles heal this year. If the Cards can find some consistency with a FG kicker that would be a huge plus. I fear that won’t happen, but maybe these kids did improve drastically over last year. If UofL can’t get 3 points once or twice a game and has to always go for it, I promise it will cost us at least 2 games this year. When your max win total if all the cards fall perfectly is 7, well minus 2 and no bowl again.

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