Special teams in spring spotlight
fort collins » The finer points are going to be stressed this spring, as Colorado State coach Mike Bobo noted before camp began for his football team. Not just on offense and defense, but on special teams, too.
Particularly on special teams.
While the Rams’ offense and defense will work on their systems against each other, the special teams will spend almost all of the camp working on the individual drills that are the backbone to making them click.
The unit that will get some attention is punt coverage, Bobo said, noting that if the fundamental work is strong, the plans in place during the season should naturally fall into line.
“We started on ( punt coverage Tuesday), and we’ll work that every day through, but we’re just going to work drills in all the other phases of special teams and try to improve their fundamentals,” Bobo said. “If their fundamentals are good, then really any scheme would work.”
Special- teams coach Jamie Bryant said the goal is to give the players a tool box to carry forward. Many of the skills transfer over to different units, and instead of a particular focus for players, they are getting a tutorial in all aspects.
In that regard, KevinNutt believes the Rams will be well ahead of the game when preseason camp begins inAugust, aswell as afterward when game planning starts to take place.
The Rams already are somewhat ahead, Nutt said, because they have spent a year working under Bryant and have a handle on his expectations of performance.
“We definitely havemore of a feel towhat hewants to do,” Nutt said. “It’s just getting better at it. There’s always room for improvement. You’ve got to look at it as a time to get better at what you do. Sometimes I’m out there on the perimeter running or I’m inside the line blocking. I know last season I didn’t do a lot of blocking part, so this year that’s going to be a big focus for me is getting better at the blocking part of it.”
CSU was solid — but not spectacular — on special teams in 2016. The Rams finished 10th nationally in net punting in large part because of star punter Hayden Hunt, who has graduated, but ranked 49th in punt- return defense ( 6.65 yards allowed per return). They were 43rd in kick- return defense ( 19.63), 53rd in punt returns ( 8.52) and 76th in kickoff returns ( 20.31), so the return games have plenty of room for growth.
Bryant, who also feels more comfortable now that he has a better idea of the personnel on the roster and which tasks players are capable of performing, doesn’t see any major changes to special teams.
“I don’t know that we’re going to change a whole lot scheme wise,” he said.
“It’s going to be more a change of how we practice and the emphasis on the fundamentals and the little things, so that they can execute and have a good chance to succeed.”
Bryant also sees the drills as a way to put together depth. Nobody is being left out, and he pointed to allMountain West wide receiver Michael Gallup as somebody who is working hard during the drills.
For somebody who has his eye on playing at the next level, Bryant said Gallup understands that special teams may be a way to stick in the NFL as a rookie.
TCU 88, GEORGIA TECH 56