MotSaG Look at Special Teams Part 2 – Returners

Last Year’s Performance:

One place on the field that the 2013 Buckeyes can drastically improve from last year is in the return game, especially kick-off returns. Last year, the Buckeyes ranked 84th nationally in kickoff return yardage with an average of 19.9 yards. Coaches are looking for more consistency and explosiveness on kickoff returns this year. The punt returners were more consistent last year led by Philly Brown. He averaged a very respectable 12.28 yards per return last year with 2 TD’s.

Key Losses:

None of note. Every player that contributed in the return game is back this year.

Expectations for 2013:

With the infusion of young speed, the potential for impact plays in the return game is looking up. Coach Coombs expressed his enthusiastic optimism about the versatility and options in the return game to the Columbus Dispatch.

“We have got a ton of guys this year”

“We’ve got specialists in abundance”

In the same article Coach Coombs names five guys being considered for kickoff return duty. Jordan Hall, Rod Smith, Dontre Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott, and Bradley Roby. I like that mix of players. It is a good mix of speed and reliability, experience and young excitement, and players looking to make a mark on the team.

My expectation is that we will see the “experienced” players fielding kicks early in the year sprinkled with the freshman. Once the coaching staff is comfortable with Dontre and Ezekiel’s ability to avoid mistakes, I would expect them to see the lion-share of the returns as the season progresses.

As for the punt returns, Philly Brown will look to duplicate his excellent 2012. Of course, he will be pushed by the youngsters, but again, I expect the coaches to rely on a proven commodity. Based on these two returns, that is not a bad choice.

Early in camp Urban Meyer told the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

“I’d be disappointed if our return game isn’t really good this year”

Given the talent and speed at his disposal, I expect his assessment has not changed as camp has gone along. I have the same expectation. The return game should be much improved with the plethora (Meyer’s term) of returners with the ability to impact the game.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: