Special Teams an Area of Focus for Alabama This Offseason
Spring football is a time for players to compete, coaches to evaluate and fans to find answers to their predictions. For Alabama, the questions circulate around who will be the next quarterback, how is the offense going to look under Lane Kiffin and who will fill in the holes on defense?
These questions are important to what is in store for the 2014 football season. However, the special teams unit should not be ignored. It has held the fate of the Tide’s season in recent years and can do the same in 2014.
As field position is a defenses best friend, it certainly was Alabama’s thanks to the leg of Cody Mandell. He averaged 47 yards per punt this past season, which is third best in the nation, with a long of 60 yards. Unfortunately, Mandell’s time has come to an end. Now the question is who will fill the shoes of Mandell? The answer to that is incoming freshman JK Scott.
In his senior year, Scott averaged 43 yards per punt, placed six of those kicks inside the 20, with a long of 60 yards. The gifted Scott also manned the field goal duties, making 8 field goals with a long of 58 yards.
Not much can be assessed of Scott until the fall when he sets foot in Tuscaloosa. For now, all one can do is hope his numbers can translate at the next level.
Last year Alabama was in the top of almost every statistical category but field goal percentage, where they sat 90th in the nation. Cade Foster was solid on 12 of his 14 attempts going into the Iron Bowl. But once again the pressure of a big game folded the kickers as they struggled to make any field goals.
As Cade Foster’s tenure comes to an end, redshirt sophomore Adam Griffith looks to change the kicking woes at Alabama. Griffith was ranked as the number one place-kicker by 247sports.com and Scouts.com. Sparingly getting an opportunity to kick in games Griffith was one for three in field goal attempts.
The sample size of his field goal responsibilities from last season is no indication of his ability. He is penciled in as the place-kicker and field goal kicker but look for Scott to give Griffith a run for his money come fall.
Until then, all one can do is hope that Saban can opt to the special teams rather than differ and allow the offense or defense to be the answer when the game is on the line.