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While we are all on pins and needles awaiting the announcement of our new OC, I would like to take a moment to congratulate Coach Boulware on the tremendous job he has done improving our special teams over the last three years. I'm sure all of you remember how shaky our special teams were in 2008, playing a pivotal role in a season best forgotten. When CGC started his job at AU, one of the areas of greatest need/opportunity was in the special teams dept. Since then our special teams have shown remarkable improvement in every aspect every year. One of the big reasons we were able to win 7 games and our bowl game this year is due to the solid play of our special teams
A couple of examples:
Cody Parkey led the nation by a wide margin in the percentage of kickoffs which were touchbacks, taking that potentially big play away from the opposition almost 60% of the time. Most teams have less than 20% touchbacks. And he did not have a single kickoff go out of bounds so no team ever got the gift of starting their offense on the 40 yd line. He also executed a successful onside kick in the bowl game that really added to our momentum and demoralized the Va team. I don't think he executed the onside kick against Utah State but that successful conversion when everyone in JHS knew what was coming was another great special teams play and that play enabled us to complete the comeback and maybe saved our season from disaster.
The % of kicks which are touchbacks is not a statistic kept by the NCAA. They just note the total number of touchbacks of each team but the number of kickoffs a team has is largely dependent on how many scores they have. We had fewer kickoffs than some other teams due to our amemic offense but, again, our % of kickbacks was significantly better than any other team in the country. It's easy to figure out the % using NCAA stats.
Steven Clark was one of thee finalists for the Ray Guy Award this year. He did a great job all year of keeping opponents backed up by punting balls which were downed inside their 20 yd line.
Remember a few years ago when it seemed like we would never be able to successfully field a punt? Thank goodness those days seem to be over. Think about it - every phase of the kicking game was noticeably better this year compared to 2008: punt coverage, punt returns, kickoff coverage, kickoff returns. The one area we still need to improve on is making field goals. For next year Parkey either has to improve his fg technique or we need to find a fg specialist but I reiterate he is the best kickoff specialist we have ever had and he is a good fg kicker. He just needs to fine tune his technique and improve his aim.
In '09 I was concerned our special teams would continue to be a liability. Now, it's obvious Coach Boulware has converted our special teams from a liability to a strength which we can build on to be a better team in '12. Great job Coach Boulware!! You're a great asset to AU.
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by Weve Won 9 on 1/22/2012 at 12:37 PM
"Brick by brick, my citizens. Brick by brick"
"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places." Ernest Hemingway
No question. In the last 20 years, I can remember teams where we pooched kickoffs (Bowden era?) and we couldn't catch a punted ball. It was frustrating to say the least.
Big ups to the coaches for making it a priority.
Great comment and a well deserved acknowledgement to Coach Bouleware and his staff. There was great improvement on special teams from 2010 to 2011. Great Job!!!!!
I concur with the rest here, he has done a terrific job in bringing our special teams WAY up from previous years. In '09 I questioned his ability with all the muffed punts and not being able to settle on a returner. He has certainly changed my opinion of him. Plus having a lot of young talent helps tremendously with kickoff coverage and returns.
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