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Despite a slow start in the kicking game, State's special teams fared decently in 2012.
Today's review is a general review of the special teams performance in 2012. Although Justin touched on the kicking return game earlier in the week, we will include it here as well, along with just about every other kicking related category you can think of.
So, to start off today, let's take a look at the numbers for Devon Bell and the field goal kicking this past season.
For the most part, I think the field goal performance of 2012 was very good. Yes, freshman kicker Devon Bell got off to a very shaky start, missing his first three field goals, but he settled in nicely after that, finishing 12-16 the rest of the way. Bell was solid this season, and again, was a freshman, so his performance will only get better and more reliable as his career progresses. As is the case most of the time with kicking, Bell didn't cost us any games, therefore, he gets an A+ in my book. Expecting big things from him going forward.
Now, let's take a look at an important part of the team that doesn't always get the attention it deserves: the punting game.
Although we rarely talk about it, Baker Swedenburg's performance this season deserves some attention. Swedenburg wasn't flashy, but was most certainly reliable, as his numbers would indicate. Besides, when has anyone called the punting game flashy? Baker's average was respectable, and most importantly, his netted opponents a combined 8 return yards, which was tops in the country. That is what matters, and in that case, Baker excelled. Baker featured 18 punts inside the 20 this year, 30 fair catches, and 4 punts of 50 yards or more. Pretty good numbers, I would say.
Justin talked a bit earlier in the week about State's kickoff return unit, but how did our kick return defensive unit fare this season? Well, let's take a look.
|Category||# of Returns||Yards||Avg/Return||Ntl Rank||TDs|
As we discussed, the punt return team was outstanding this year: yielding a grand total of .67 yards a return. That is basically the yards per play average of the offense in the Croom years, but that's neither near nor there. As for the kickoff return defensive unit, there year wasn't a bad one either. Although it seemed that they gave up a good many long returns, their average of 20.22 yards given up per return was in the top 40 in the nation. The two kickoff return touchdowns came in games that State ultimately won, so you I would say their effects were negligible.
A quick glance at punt returns for the season:
Nothing flashy here. This was a facet of State's game that I was a bit disappointed with in 2012. State returned two punts for touchdowns in 2011, but was unable to return any this year. There was nothing flashy here for this season, but I also don't remember much going wrong, save for Deonte Skinner's back fumbling that one time.
And finally, here again are the numbers for the kick return game in 2012:
So, what do you guys think about the special teams for this season? Which facets were you impressed with? Disappointed in? Let us know what you think.