We’re almost finished with our Best Case/Worst Case previews for 2012 Gamecock football, and today with focus on the third, and obviously least important, phase of football – special teams. Oh, come on, you’re not really falling for that bunk that the coaching and media elite are spouting about special teams is just as important as offense and defense are you? If so you’re watching too much Fox News. Or MSNBC. Or NFL Network. Or Alec Baldwin.
Wait, what? The punt return? That’s considered special teams?!? Ah, geez. Well, that changes things, but only a little. It’s not like we have the next Boo Williams, Chavez Donnings or Matt Thomas on the team. Or, at least I hope we don’t…
On to the BC/WC:
Best Case: Adam Yates is at least as good as the guys in our recent run of average to very good kickers. He makes kicks consistently from inside 40, and hits a few beyond 40, which means the HBC has the confidence to let him try. He gets us a few touchbacks on kickoffs, but even when he doesn’t he hits high kickoffs inside the five to give our coverage guys time to get down and make a big hit. We give up zero kick returns for touchdown. Nick St. Germain gets to redshirt and build leg strength so he can be our main guy for the next four. Bonus Best Case: I don’t have to walk out of the room every time we kick a field goal.
Worst Cast: Adam Yates misses early and often. Low kicks, wide kicks, short kicks, you name it. St. Germain is given a chance and shows a powerful leg but is terribly inconsistent. Nobody can go deep on kickoffs, resulting in long returns against us. So we resort back to pooch kicks, giving away a minimum 15 yards of field possession on every kickoff. Bonus Worst Case: I continue to leave the room during field goal attempts. Which is probably what I’ll do anyway.
Best Case: Mike Williamson or internet legend Tyler Hull grabs the job by the short hairs in the last week of practice and doesn’t let go. Williamson/Hull is a pleasant surprise, with consistency of length and hang time for an entire season. We don’t give up a punt returns over 20 yards all season, and the average against us is single digits.
Worst Case: Neither Mike Williamson nor internet legend Tyler Hull distinguish themselves. Joe Robinson plays wheel of punter with those two guys as they produce poor punt after poor punt. We still do well on returns against average because the punts are so bad the return teams can’t get to the ball. We hear players yelling “FIRE” a lot.
Best Case: Bruce Ellington breaks the no-kickoff-returns-for-TD streak early in the season, and just for good measure does it a couple more times. Joe Robinson gets return schemes into place that allow for Ellington to use his natural skills to give the Gamecocks great field position time after time. People start resorting to the pooch kick against us. And we catch them 100% of the time.
Worst Case: Ellington continually mistakes opponents jerseys for open running lanes. Poor schemes lead to missed assignments lead to big hits on Ellington leading to turnovers. Despite our dearth of high school kick return superstars, we can’t seem to find anybody to bust a big one. Matt Thomas’ streak is alive for another season.
Best Case: Ace Sanders was good last year (outstanding if you want relative to recent history) and has improved immensely. He’s Joe Adams dangerous, and sets a single season record for Gamecock punt returns for TD (which is what, two?)
Worst Case: Ace has trouble fielding punts, and despite being dangerous once he gets the ball, we can’t risk the turnovers. Vic Hampton would be an option, but it’s too risky to put him back there since he’s our best corner. Shaq Roland becomes our designated fair catch machine.
Best Case: Consistently good snaps.
Worst Case: Consistently bad snaps.
Hey, what do you want from me? Analyze snap RPMs or something? It’s a freakin’ snap, hit the man in the hands with it.
Coming up: In our final Best Case/Worst Case preview, the Gman will take a look at our schedule and let you know how we can make it to the BCS Title Game…or the Chick-fil-A Bowl.