Inept special teams cost BC wins in 2002 and 2003. Last season was more of the same, however, the improved return game also contributed to a few key wins.
This season I expect the return team to be even stronger. Will Blackmon -- one of the nations leading punt and kick returners -- will now focus exclusively on offense and special teams. As I have repeated, Will has a ton of talent and is very good at finding the holes in the special teams coverage. Without the pressure of playing corner Will should really blossom. Plus after being a washout on defense, this might be his best and only way into the NFL. Dejaun Tribble also successfully returned some punts last season. Look for Andre Callender or one of the wideouts to get a chance to return a few kickoffs too.
Past breakdown on punts could be attributed to poor snaps. That shouldn’t be a problem this year. The consistent long snapper Francois Brochu returns for his final season in 2005. He’ll be snapping to Johnny Ayers. Ayers had a good first season. He only muffed a few and never really cost us a game. A little more consistency and our punting should be fine.
Kicking is the biggest question. Ryan Ohliger was maddening in 2004. Beyond 40 yards he was nearly perfect. Against WVU he had ice water in his veins. Other times he couldn’t make a chip shot. His best play was a fake that he turned into a TD against North Carolina. I am attributing most of his troubles to freshman jitters. If he can’t improve, he’ll get the hook.
Overall I feel good about our special teams. I don’t expect them to win games Beamer style, but as long as they don’t blow it, BC should be okay.