Not even the Brigham Young Cougars special teams were immune from dark moments in 2010. For the most part, the special teams were solid and quietly did what they needed for BYU to win. Matt Marshall successfully executed a fake FG against San Diego State. However, it can be real easy to focus on how the BYU record holder for most kickoff return yards in a career was kicked off the team, and that a last second field goal attempt to beat Utah was blocked.
BYU returns all of the key special teams players from 2010, except place kicker Mitch Payne. Payne set a few school records of his own last year. The most notable being most points scored in a career. Payne will be replaced by Justin Sorensen.
Fresh off a mission, Sorensen is already well known for kicking 60+ yard field goals in high school. Riding a unicycle around campus helps add to his popularity. Despite having a strong leg, accuracy may be an issue with Sorensen on field goals.
Sorensen is also the dark horse candidate to have his fame rise to the Jimmer level. Everyone expects Jake Heaps to become the next superstar BYU athlete, but Sorensen could steal his thunder. All it would take is a couple of extra long field goals, especially if they win the game. Throw in his unicycle act and you have a can’t miss “big man on campus.” Ok, maybe that is a reach.
Riley Stephenson will focus on punting only this year. He averaged a very good 42.0 yards per punt last year. Nearly 40% of his punts came down inside the 20 yard line. Just under 1/3 of his punts were 50 yards or longer.
Losing O’Neill Chambers was a blow, but Cody Hoffman instantly had everyone questioning O’Neill who? Hoffman consistently made big returns on kickoffs.
JD Falslev was adequate on punt return duties. The most important part of returning punts is to field the ball cleanly, which he did. It would be nice to see his 9.1 yard return average move up to 12 this year.
Other 2011 Previews: Season Preview, Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers, Running Backs, Offensive Line, Defensive Backs, Linebackers, Defensive Line, Special Teams
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