FIRST QUARTER GRADES: Special Teams


GRADE: C

STATS:

Punting

No.

Yds.

Avg.

Long

TB

FC

I20

50+

Blkd

Reid Forrest

17

773

45.5

64

2

4

6

5

0

Placekicking

FG M/A

Long

XP M/A

Nico Grasu

5-7

44

6/6

Kickoffs

Total

Yards

Avg,

TB

OB

Patrick Rooney

9

534

59.3

0

1

Nico Grasu

5

344

68.8

3

0

Kick Returns

No.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Long

James Montgomery

7

168

24.0

O

38

Marcus Richmond

3

67

22.3

0

31

Aire Justin

2

32

16.0

0

19

Brandon Jones

2

28

14

0

19

Total

14

295

21.1

0

38

Opponents

10

301

30.1

1

85

Punt Returns

No.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Long

Jeffrey Solomon

1

21

21.0

0

21

Brandon Jones

1

3

3.0

0

3

Total

2

24

12.0

0

21

Opponent

7

73

10.4

0

59

COMMENTS:  Aside from the stellar play from Reid Forrest at punter (who would be that kid in the group doing all the work while the other kids slack off), special teams has been somewhat schizophrenic this year.  This is due in part to some personnel shifts and in part to some sloppy play.  Placekicking, the return game, and kickoffs have been horrific at times, but at other times they have shown flashes of competence.

Nico Grasu turned in what will be one of the plays of the year when he split the uprights from 39 yards out to lift the Cougs over SMU last Saturday.  Of course, that final kick would not have been necessary had there not been a botched snap on an earlier extra point try, or if Grasu could have hit a field goal from the same distance earlier in the game.  While Grasu is the best placekicker the Cougs have had since Drew Dunning, he still has his lapses, like the 22 yard miss against Stanford. 

Success in the return game has boiled down to who has been bringing the ball back.  Corners Brandon Jones and Aire Justin struggled mightily in that position, making poor decisions and failing to show that ability to make the first guy miss.  Running backs James Montgomery and Marcus Richmond have faired much better.  With Montgomery out for the season, lets hope Richmond takes over the kick returning duties.

Kickoffs got off to a very poor start in the first few games.  Kickoff "specialist" Patrick Rooney struggled to get the ball beyond the ten yard line, let alone in the endzone.  The coverage has also left something to desire, as the opposition is averaging over thirty yards per return.  Nico Grasu provided some hope against SMU, as he was able to knock three kicks into the endzone.  If he continues that, it could mask some of the depth issues the Cougs have shown on special teams.

HOW THIS GRADE CAN BE IMPROVED: I fully expect improvement out of the special teams going forward.  Wulff seems to have realized that his cornerbacks are not effective kick returners, and hopefully we will see guys that are used to having the ball in there hands back there.  Nico Grasu provides instant improvement in the kickoff game. Reid Forrest should keep being awesome.  Many special teams mistakes can be improved if the Cougs avoid mental lapses, like missing assignments.  This unit has real potential to earn an "A" in the second quarter of the season.

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