April 30, 2012

Post-Spring Analysis: Special Teams

Baylor's special teams were up and down in 2012. But the up was in the second half of the season. While special teams play isn't glamorous, it really can influence a game's outcome. The eighth part of our post-spring series reviews this group.

Post-Spring depth Chart:

Punter
Spencer Roth (6-4, 225, Soph.)

PK
Aaron Jones (6-3, 190, Jr.)

Kickoff Return
Antwan Goodley (5-10, 220, Soph.)
Demitri Goodson (5-11, 180, Sr.)

Levi Norwood (6-2, 190, So.) OR
Darius Jones (5-11, 185, Jr.)

Punt Return
Levi Norwood(6-2, 190, SO.)
Demitri Goodson (5-11, 180, Sr.)

Deep Snapper
Zach Northern(6-1, 285, JR.)
Jimmy Landes (6-0, 215, So.) OR
Marcus Santa Cruz (6-3, 240, Sr.)

Holder
Brody Trahan (5-11, 220, JR.)
23 Clay Fuller (6-1, 200, So.)

Key Losses: Kendall Wright PR; Robert Griffin III Quick kicks; Ben Parks KO

Impact Newcomers: B.J.Allen

Projected Starters: Same as on depth chart

Key Stat: 0 punt and kickoff returns for a touchdown. For the kind of speed this team had, it was a bit surprising that no one took a return the distance.

Post-spring analysis: This was more of a time for the likes of Roth and Jones to work on their mechanics and make sure they were in a rhythm. Jones is going to have to get better on field goals from 40-49 yards where he was only 3-7 in 2011. Roth was solid his freshman year averaging more than 40 yards per effort. Norwood has become very sure-handed on returns for punts so that shouldn't change. With Goodson being eligible, it should be fun to watch him break onto the scene.

What Briles said: "We have everybody back and that's a critical part. We're way ahead on special teams. It's a big deal. It's taken us some time to build that up. Spencer is that much better. He only got limited time before the season last year."

Pre-spring analysis: This was an area that Baylor coach Art Briles felt pretty secure about when it came to his kicker, punter and return specialists. Where this team struggled was on coverage for both punts and returns. Don't expect the Bears to be punting only 32 times this fall. So it will be important for the coverage teams to be disciplined by staying in their lanes and be sure in tackling. The only way they're going to know how that's going to look is the Sept. 2 opener against SMU. Darius Jones has too much talent to be running second team on the kick return unit. However, he has a chance to prove himself and find a way to not only make the first team but somehow make a contribution with the wide receivers. Jones shared kickoff duties with Ben Parks. Now, that job belongs to him.


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