Special Teams must improve to win hardware
Look no further than Auburn to see that special teams can cost you championships. They missed a field goal, allowed a return for a TD and missed a fake punt on a 4th down that basically turned the momentum around in that championship game.
I fear the same will be true for our team if we don't do something different this year, and so far I have heard nothing that we are doing to make it better.
1. We ranked dead last in punting and punt returns in the SEC for the year.
2. We ranked 10th in kickoff returns in the SEC for the year.
3. In 2012 we ranked 12th in punting and 13th in returns.
4. In 2011 it was 11th in punting and 10th in returns. (with 12 SEC teams)
5. In 2010, the one year we went to the SEC championship game, we were 6th in punting and 8th in returns.
I am not saying we need to be first in these categories at the expense of others, but ranking last and expecting good results is a recipe for disaster. The field position game is extremely important on the road where your offense can stall and crowd noise can effect your offensive efficiency. Anyone notice that we are a very different team on the road? The one year we had average statistics for the conference in these areas happened to be the one year we ended up in the championship game. Now I am not saying that having decent punt and return units put you in championship games, what I am saying is you can't be dead last or right at it year after year with good results. Sooner or later it will bite you, and you will lose a close game that you should win because the other team focuses on it more than you.
Fast forward to 2014, we are losing Ellington and Hampton, and frankly we haven't heard a single thing even addressing how subpar this performance is. It would be one thing if it was talked about and acknowledged it needed improving but I haven't seen anything yet? Am I missing something?
You can't spell EXCUSE without the "CU."