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What Is Up With USF Special Teams This Season?

Four blocked kicks in three games... what gives?

NCAA Football: Illinois at South Florida Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Last week against Illinois, USF football seemed to fix everything that ailed them in the first two games of the season.

Offensive line troubles? Fixed.

Let Quinton cook? Fixed.

Running game slow? Fixed.

But bad special teams play has yet to be fixed. Let’s find out what the problem is.

In Jamie’s Box Score EMOJICAP from over the weekend, he mentions that I thought the snaps from new long snapper Zack Deitz may be getting to their final destination a tick slower than last year with Alex Salvato. Mack Brown suggested it on the broadcast, too. But that may not be the case.

To the tape.

San Jose State Blocked Punt:

SJSU snap

With the Bulls already down ten and forced to punt again, SJSU is more than happy to get the ball back without much pressure on the kick. So how did this punt even get blocked?

Dillion 1v1 close

SJSU brings two guys off the edge, but USF has tight ends Mitchell Wilcox and Kano Dillon to pick them up. This snap is the worst one of the four from Deitz but Large Adult Punter. had plenty of time to gather and kick.

Dillon wiff

Dillion just flat-out whiffed on the block. You can see Dillon’s right hand and foot in the air, so you know something went sideways.

SJSU punt blocked

Because Dillon misses his block, SJSU gets great field position and goes up 16-0 in the first quarter and #USFTwitter has a meltdown. The only redeeming thing Dillon did was make the touchdown-saving tackle.

Bad play Dillon.

Stony Brook Blocked Punt:

SB snap

Right away you tell something bad is probably going to happen. There are too many uncovered white jersey’s and not enough green ones to stop it all.

SB Ut oh moment

Here you see three unmarked Seawolves bearing down on Wilcox and Dillon. Last I checked, 3 > 2 and something terrible is going to happen. But it didn’t have to be a 3v2. Long snapper lets SB player #2 go free. If he stays in to block, it evens things up and the Bulls have a chance to get the punt off. But then..


Wilcox and Dillon block the same guy. Oy vey. So that leaves SB #1 and #3 free to take LAP’s lunch. By the time Dillon and Wilcox figure out they made a mistake, it’s too late to fix the problem.

SB blocked

SB #1 and #3 are there to block it and fall on the ball for an easy six points and #USFTwitter melted down even further. Missed assignments galore on this one.

Bad play Deitz, Wilcox and Dillon.

Illinois Field Goal:

Illinois FG presnap

The Illini don’t try anything tricky here, it’s just another missed assignment.

FG snap

It looks like OL Marcus Norman and TE/FB Nick Munera split apart at the snap, which leaves a rusher free on the left side.

FG postsnap

You can already see the writing on the wall when the free rusher breaks through and kicker Emilio Nadelman is still three yards away from the ball.

FG blocked

The entire left side of the field goal unit breaks down and there are three guys in the face of Nadelman before he’s kicked it. This play had no chance of working.

Bad play entire left side of the FG unit.

Illinois Extra Point:

Illinois XP presnap

USF was kicking from their 18-yard line because they were flagged (shocking) on the first attempt.

Unlike blocked punts, which mostly come down to hustle and missed assignments; a good special teams unit can scheme up ways to block field goals and PATs. Illinois bunches three defenders in tightly to the right of the center in hopes that one man breaks free and gets to the kick. SPOILER: They do.

XP snap

As you can see, one Illini defender sneaks through the line just after the snap of the ball. Head coach Lovie Smith had some fantastic special teams units when he was with the Chicago Bears, so it’s not too surprising that he was able to dial something up.

XP blocked

And there it is. To add insult in injury, Illinois scoops the blocked kick and returns it for two points the other way. Oddly enough, the Illini never went after another kick in the game.

Good scheme Illinois.


SJSU: Missed assignment by Dillon.

Stony Brook: Missed assignment by Deitz, Wilcox and Dillon.

Illinois: Missed assignment by the left side of the protection unit on the field goal. Good scheme by Illinois on the PAT.

Special teams coach Justin Burke has to feel his seat getting a little steamy after four blocked kicks in three games. These are very correctable mistakes that Burke has to be able to make by either changing personnel or scheme, maybe both.

Burke gets no rest this week either. Under special teams coach Ed Foley, the Temple Owls have blocked 12 kicks since 2015, including an extra point versus USF last year.