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Progression, Continuation, or Regression? Noles Special Teams

Every day while catching up on my daily Nole must reads, I very often wonder to myself, "Are my 2009 Noles going to be better than last year’s team?"

I would like to thank those of you who have been playing along. After finishing this part, only the Offensive Line remains. Then I will recap what the TN members have projected on how each of these units will perform, for prosperity's sake. After the season, we will all be amazed at what a brilliant group of prognosticators the TN members are, and many of you will have none other than Phil Steele banging on your door with employment offers.

So far we have analyzed, discussed, and you have voted on whether the Defensive Line, the Receivers/Tight End, the Secondary, the Offensive Backfield, and the Linebackers, will be better, the same, or worse than last years equivalent unit. Today we will take a look at the Special Teams, to determine if this unit has progressed, expected to continue at the same level, or regressed, in comparison to last years "SPECIAL" special teams unit.

Gano's gone. 'Nuff said. Please vote now. (OK wait a minute).

As I prepared for this Special Teams part of the series, I felt this was really all I needed to say. However,

I feel that if you are going to do something, do it as best you can. So on with my drivel.


No group suffered a bigger loss than the special teams when Lou Groza Award winner Graham Gano graduated. Gano not only won the top award for a kicker but he also is believed to be the first punter ever to be named the MVP of a bowl game when he took home those honors in the Champs Sports Bowl.

For more on what the loss of Gano might mean, I suggest you read this nice piece by fsu44, 2009 Florida State Place Kicking Preview: How Much Will FSU Miss Graham Gano?, which includes some good information on the success of freshman kickers, as well as some good statistics and analysis.

The Seminoles will return their deep snapper Zack Aronson, and holder Shawn Powell this season.

James Esco and Nathan O’Jibway handled all kicking duties this spring. Neither has ever attempted a field goal in a game during their careers. Esco and O’Jibbway were looking to get a leg up on the nation’s No. 1 kicking prospect Dustin Hopkins before he enrolled this summer, but Hopkins is the projected place kicker at this point.

Powell, who started the first seven games of the season as the team’s punter, will take over full-time duties for Gano. The sophomore had almost identical numbers to Gano through the regular season, however Gano's ability to pin opponents inside the 20 yard line is surely something that will not be forgotten very easily by Nole fans.

2008 PLACE KICKER=Zack Hobby started the first 2 games while Gano recovered from his injuries, then Gano started the next 11 games. Both are now gone.

2009 PROJECTED PLACE KICKER=Dustin Hopkins is expected to start, followed by James Esco and Nathan O'Jibway.

2008 PUNTER=Shawn Powell started the first 7 games and Gano finished the last 6.

PUNTING No Yds Avg Long TB FC I20 Blkd
Graham Gano 22 939 42.7 58 0 7 8 0
Shawn Powell 18 739 41.1 56 1 2 4 0

2009 PROJECTED PUNTER=Shawn Powell followed by Kevin Campbell

2008 PUNT RETURNER=Tony Carter and Bert Reed. Carter is gone.

 PUNT RETURNS         No  Yds   Avg TD Long
Tony Carter 8 113 14.1 1 68t
Bert Reed 8 63 7.9 0 18
A.J. Alexander 1 12 12.0 0 12
Preston Parker 3 7 2.3 0 4
Ochuko Jenije 2 6 3.0 0 7
Roosevelt Lawson 1 5 5.0 0 5
Dekoda Watson 1 3 3.0 0 3

Total......... 24 209 8.7 1 68t
Opponent...... 16 138 8.6 0 18

2009 PROJECTED PUNT RETURNER=Bert Reed and Greg Reid

2008 KICK OFF RETURNERS=Michael Ray Garvin and Preston Parker are both gone.

KICK RETURNS         No  Yds   Avg TD Long
Michael Ray Garvin   22   662 30.1  1  94t
Preston Parker        8   162 20.3  0  35 
Taiwan Easterling     7   141 20.1  0  29 
Bert Reed             6   132 22.0  0  41 
Patrick Robinson      4   112 28.0  0  39 
Nigel Bradham         2    36 18.0  0  19 
Seddrick Holloway     2    28 14.0  0  22 
Joe Surratt           1     7  7.0  0   7 
Nigel Carr            1     0  0.0  0   0 
Total.........       53  1280 24.2  1  94t
Opponent......       71  1431 20.2  0  57 

2009 PROJECTED KICK OFF RETURNERS=A.J. Alexander and Louis Givens

So there you have it. Graham Gano, last seasons MVP IMO, and Garvin left some pretty big shoes to fill.


What is your bottom line? Please vote now.