Sunday, December 26, 2004

Pregame scouting report Part 3

Special Teams

Last season’s low point – special teams – was much improved this season. By having a consistent long snapper back, the kicking game was much better. And avoiding Miami and Va Tech helped improve our kick coverage stats.

At the same time, a winnable game (Wake) was lost due to three missed field goals. Coming into the season, it was predictable that Ohlinger – a true freshman -- would have problems. But he seemed to let those mistakes go and was pretty solid the rest of the way.

Our return game was great this year. I think it is/was the result of putting more playermakers on the squad. Will Blackmon and Tribble both returned kicks this year. Blackmon also saved our bacon against Ball State with great returns. Heck, even Toal had a nice little run against West Virginia.

We blocked two punts this season and both proved meaningless…and telling. Against Pitt, a blocked punt resulted in a Pitt first down when our guys didn’t know the rule on advancing it (you’ve got to question the coaching on something like that); and against ‘Cuse we blocked a punt before half and turned it into a touchdown. We were down by 14 and I hoped it was a sign of life. It wasn’t. Overall heading into UNC, I expect the specials teams to work to our favor but not decide the game.

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