We've already covered so many positions on the field for the 2012 Mississippi State football field, and now it's time to cover one that you don't often remember until you need them in a big game.
Special Teams: where you can either be a hero making a 45 yard kick to win the game or you can be the goat, missing a chip shot against po dunk state university to lose on homecoming. Special teams also includes Punter: who in a league as difficult as the SEC is a vital position to reverse the field in his team's favor.
2011 was overall a decent year for special teams, as K Derek DePasquale was pretty automatic (inside 40 yards) and P Baker Swedenburg did a respectable job carrying the punting duties for Mississippi State.
Now let's take a look at what State looks to have at the K and P positions this upcoming fall.
|Brian Egan (K)
|5'11", 210 lbs
|Prattville, AL (Western Illinois)
|Baker Swedenburg (P)
|6'0", 185 lbs
|Columbus, MS (Heritage Academy)
Key Members to Replace
Derek DePasquale | 12 of 18 field goals made, 36-37 PATs, 10-12 inside 40 yards, 2-6 40+ yards, 42 yard long
Key Members Returning
Brian Egan | 0 of 1 field goals made, 64.0 yard kickoff average, 6 touchbacks
Baker Swedenburg | 41.8 yd average, 58 yard long, 8 touchbacks, 19 inside the 20 yard line, 14 punts of 50+ yards
Newcomers to Watch
Devon Bell (K) | True Freshman (on campus this fall)
Evan Sobiesk (K) | True Freshman (on campus this fall)
2011 Position Performance
Derek DePasquale had been for the most part a crowd favorite during his career until a shaky middle to late part of the 2011 season caused him to loose his footing with the Bulldog fan base. DePasquale struggled mightily in a portion of his Senior season, as he missed 6 of 7 field goals spanning from the UAB to Alabama games. Derek did finish on a good note though, making his final 3 field goals: 1 in each of the 3 final contests of the year including the Music City Bowl. Derek again was rock solid on extra points, as he made 36-37 on the season.
On kickoffs, State had one of its better years of recent, as KO specialist Brian Egan averaged 64 yards per kick. Egan also tallied 6 touchbacks, which it seems like we may have had 6 touchbacks in the previous 6 years combined before that (STAT NOT VERIFIED). Overall, Brian gave you pretty much all you could ask for as a kick off guy.
In the punting category, the Dogs did fairly well with Baker Swedenburg, a local boy from just up the road in Columbus. Baker averaged a respectable 41.8 yards per punt, and was able to log 14 punts of 50+ yards or more. Although Baker's 41.8 average was only good enough for 7th overall in the SEC in 2011, it was still an improvement from Bulldog punters before him.
What to Expect in 2012
At Punter, expect another solid year, as Baker Swedenburg returns healthy and capable to improve on his solid average. As a State fan you hope you don't have to see Baker TOO many times during the year, but when you do, it's nice to know he's reliable.
Kicker, however, is a complete 360 degrees from the Punter position. State heads into the fall with this position wide open, and it looks like it will be a 3 horse race between KO man Brian Egan and newcomers Devon Bell (Warren Central) and Evan Sobiesk (Oak Grove). It sounds like money is between one of the newcomers to get the starting nod as the FG man this fall (kudos to Paul Jones' Special Teams preview for alerting me to who these guys even were). Like the Punter position, State fans will probably hope they don't have to see the Field Goal unit more than they have to, unless they're kicking an extra point after a long Tyler Russell touchdown pass.
On kickoffs, I would expect Devon Bell and Brian Egan to battle it out for who gets the job.
Overall, State should be OKAY on special teams: solid at Punter, but Kicker should be an adventure. Let's just hope the Bulldogs can find a candidate solid enough to get the job done when we need it in a tight game.
Tune in Tomorrow morning for the finale of our FWTCT Football Spring Position Previews as we preview the most important position of all, Quarterback.