Spring practice begins next week so we will breakdown each position group as we gear up for football season. Note: We will not guess on what impact freshmen who are not on campus yet will have on the team.
Key Losses: PR/KR Tyre McCants (16 returns for 75 yards, 4.7 yards avg in 2018).
Key Returners: Coby Weiss (35 for 39 XP, 15 for 18 FG); punter/holder Trent Schneider (74 punts for 3176 yards, 42.9 avg); long snapper Ian Deneen
Justin Burke returns to being the special teams coach after a brief stint as being the offensive coordinator for the Gasparilla Bowl (thankfully). Burke’s unit returns all three key players, with kicker Coby Weiss, punter/holder Trent Schneider, and long snapper Ian Deneen.
As of right now, Jake Stone (3 punts for 112 yards, also handled kick off duties) is not on the roster. There is a possibility of USF adding a preferred walk-on, or recruiting another player from the soccer team, but as of right now the special teams roster sits at four players, including back up long snapper Andrew Beardall.
As a whole, the unit was by no means great, but it did improve from the disaster of the 2017 season. In 2017, USF gave up seven blocked kicks, and in 2018, USF only had four kicks get blocked all year. Statistically this is an improvement, but having four kicks blocked was good enough for T-112th in the nation.
One extremely bright spot for USF is the kick/punt returners. If Terrance Horne can heal from his ACL tear, USF will have a dangerous return man. Not to mention guys like Johnny Ford, Bentlee Sanders (17 KO returns, 455 yards, 26.8 avg), and Eddie McDoom will surely get their cracks at returning kicks.
The main key for the special teams unit will be looking for consistency. There were times that this unit looked fantastic and could be something USF don’t have to worry about. Then there were times that kickoffs went out of bounds, punts were shanked, and do I really need to remind everyone of giving up that back breaking punt return for a touchdown to seal a loss to Temple?
Special teams slightly improved from 2017 to 2018, we need to see big strides in 2019.
Positions to be filled:
- Kickoff specialist
- Punt returner