Special teams tweaks

<LINK_TEXT text=“http://www.wholehogsports.com/news/2017 … rt-kicker/”>http://www.wholehogsports.com/news/2017/sep/18/connor-limpert-listed-atop-depth-chart-kicker/</LINK_TEXT>

Those stats are horrible. We’ve been below par on kickoff coverage and returns but didn’t know we were that bad. We all knew field goals have been bad. If they add a new coach next year if that NCAA rule passed we desperately need a special teams coordinator Embarrassing

Coach B needs to take that on a get it done on special teams.
There was a time when special team play won us some games.
Now it’s a liability. Negative plays!
By looking at the depth cart chart the freshmen Malza is the back up for field goal and extra points. Seems like a good time to figure out what you have in him by giving him a shot.

There’s a very good chance the eventual special teams coach — Tanner Burns — is already on staff. He’s in his fourth year as quality control coach for special teams.

Should that encouraging since he has been involved with the problems? Just asking.

Seems like a reasonable question. They quality of special teams hasn’t been controlled for quite awhile now.

Strong Special Teams is our history. Much has been made of how we compete with the bigger programs in the SEC. This is an area where we need to excell (not lag). Look at Frank’s great teams. They were very, very strong in the kicking game (all areas). It could be said that the NC would not have happened without a punt return (and an alert early snap on a 4th down to gain 5 yds. and a 1st down that led to a TD).

We must be able to kick FGs from the 30 on in at an extremely high % (we can’t even do it from the 3 right now). Punts must ave 40 yds or hopefully more with a long hang time, and there cannot be any blocked punts or place kicks. Kickoff need to be high and deep (we seem to be better there).

Kickoff returns have been nonexistant. This is not only the returner, but the blockers in front. It seems there are very seldome any lanes opened and for gosh sakes, you cannot fumble. The most important thing in punt returns is to catch the ball and hold onto it. Returns to me are a bonus, but that threat needs to be there.

We have been lacking in many of these areas for so long. It leads me to believe that this is due to lack of emphasis on these areas. Perhaps I am wrong, but whatever it is, it must be corrected.

If it’s being emphasized, then the coach needs to double down. Special teams can win games. It also can lose games. The Hogs have had good special teams at some points in the history of the program. But it hasn’t been good in quite some time. Kickoff coverage can be solved by placing starters on the units. It’s done at a lot of places. But, that can be risky because it’s an area where you do have violent collisions and risk injury. I think there is more team speed in the young classes. That’s probably where the answer lays, finding the young ones who want to play now.

Finding the right placekicker is not always easy. They are generally a little off in the head. That’s what makes them good. The good ones love games. I don’t know if Connor Limpert is the right guy or Blake Mazza is the right guy. It might be as simple as seeing if he likes playing in games. Limpert might take it and run with it.

Ah, I miss the old days when people like Bill McClard and Steve Little were not only reliable from 30 yard line on in, but were setting records for distance. Almost as bad as not having “Texas Week” anymore.

Ah, selective memory. Little had a cannon for a leg but it often misfired. He was inaccurate on PATs and field goals of all distances. He made less than 60% of career field goals (which is roughly Hedlund’s career percentage now) and missed 10 extra points.

Of course, McClard and Little attempted a lot more long ones because a missed field goal was no different than a punt into the endzone back then. A little more pressure on the kicker today because there are few attempted field goals that aren’t expected to be good. If there’s much doubt the offense will either go for it or punt it.

Sure Little attempted more long field goals than kickers do today. But extra points were still 20 yards back then and he missed 10 of them, so he was quite capable of missing chip shots. We lost to Tulsa 9-3 in 1976 because Little made a 60-yard field goal and then missed four shorter ones including a chip shot.*

<LINK_TEXT text=“http://www.tulsaworld.com/archives/reme … 5ba94.html”>http://www.tulsaworld.com/archives/remember-tu-s-upset-in/article_bfe1a866-1689-5688-a457-49528505ba94.html</LINK_TEXT>

(* – and because Robert Farrell dropped a wide-open touchdown pass in the end zone. Three years later I got a great feature story out of that dropped pass.)

You’re right, and I’m not really suggesting that Little was accurate as much as making the point that the kicker’s job today is different than it was back then. Those guys were weapons because once you crossed midfield you were in FG range. You’re point about Little is a good one. Despite his strong leg he might not keep the job today… we’d demand someone more accurate.

One more thing about Little, Russell Erxleben, and Tony Franklin, the SWC mega-kickers of the late 1970s. Back then the rules allowed a kicker to use a ball he liked, and all three of those guys used balls that were very worn and looked like brown pumpkins. A couple years later the rule was changed and people stopped making 67-yard field goals.

Little would have been just fine without the field goal job. He blasted kickoffs and was a very good punter. It also should be noted that no kicker back then was as accurate as kickers are today. Ish Ordonez set an NCAA record for consecutive made field goals in 1978 and 79. That record has long since been blown out of the water. And all of the most accurate kickers in NFL history are still in the league.

And the NCAA allowed the use of tees for field goals and extra points until 1989.

I think you are so right, Clay. We need to double down on this. Even Bama puts some skill starters in there.

Little was still a weapon to be feared and rarely did he cost the team games.
When Ken Turner was here we had a long run of good kickers and overall good special teams. We have had a few since. But special teams seems to be a weakness for CBB and I would like to see him reconsider his entire strategy and get a special teams specialist.
The team has been fine at punter during his stay and coverage has been fair, although notable breakdowns have been costly during his stay.
He inherited a good kicker, which he has not been able to replace and the return game is non-existent. Our returners are mainly catchers and they almost seem fearful about trying to return kicks. There appears to be zero killer instinct or aggressive nature. It is more catch the ball and try not to mess up. It is extremely passive.

indeed how a kicker could do his thing and how he could be assaulted were all a part of the game back then. Lots of protection now that did not exist for centers and K back then. Steve Little would still win any K job ever open on the Razorbacks because as flaky as he was nothing topped his competitiveness. I watched him throw in warm ups a lot and he could float the ball better than Calcagni and had the best touch on the 7 route of any of the QB’s including Calcagni, Rystrom and Nutt. Little was an athlete and successful at everything he tried. Unfortunately he was also a 70’s poster child for living free without bounds. One of his saving graces was Floyd Sagely who was a man that could imitate Wilson Matthews and had lots of encounters with Steve separate from being his future father-in-law.

If Steve and Ish were competing head to head for the K job, then I expect Steve would win it because of his drive, and yet Ish could be just the K to go out and succeed as Clay alluded to when describing what it would take to find a kicker who loves to play the game. Poor Hedlund has always been the point of focus for K and had self-inflicted pressure that cracked him to coal rather than be a diamond.

Alan Lowry is a really good friends and I think as good a ST coach as the NFL has had in recent years and very stable and calm communicator which balances the K head case that most are. Technique and practice cannot overcome heads that are not built for pressure. I know a lot from the Zendejas line of teaching kicking which is what Alan was trained as. It was mentioned that Ken Turner turned out success and I wholeheartedly agree and wish for that presence. I don’t care what BB says, he has not acted upon ST needs and has not solved a perpetual problem on his watch. He has had the opportunity and the talent if he can just find out how to make the connection. Mrs BB said it best in her beginning days, karma. Karma will repeat again and again until BB does something damn different. Gotta change current K existence because it seems linked to past and change should rest in BB’s bailiwick. Us old guys are spoiled by our history and I believe that ST is an equal 1/3 of the game that determines winners and losers. Does BB? Nice Steve story:

http://articles.latimes.com/1985-10-18/ … ife-kicked