Punt Return Failures

This one has been bothering me for over a year.

In 2017, we didn’t attempt a punt return in 6 of our 12 games. And we’ve really only attempted 1 return in 3 games this season (the fumble v Rice counts as a return so we’ve technically had 2).

We’re 115th in punt return after finishing 114th last year. And 113th the year before.

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I’ll admit this is frustrating, but I kind of see the point. We have an inexperienced return guy back there (not sure why since we’re not even trying to return it), and it is so incredibly difficult to get a combination of enough room to catch and run plus no holding or blocking in the back. When you have an offense as explosive as ours, I think the thought process is let’s make a clean catch and starting there is better than losing 10 yards.

On the other hand, it would seem like the only reason Bryson is back there is because they think he can make something special happen. If he thinks he can catch the ball with a 7-10 yard cushion between him and the nearest defender, try to make something happen. Otherwise, we should just put someone back there with better hands.

Maybe that explanation would work if it wasn’t exactly the same last year.

When you have an offense as explosive as ours, I think the thought process is let’s make a clean catch and starting there is better than losing 10 yards.

Washington led nation in returns last year - averaged 36ppg (10-3).
TCU was top 10 in returns - averaged 34ppg (11-3).
UCF finished 6th in returns - averaged 48ppg (13-0).

What do those teams have in common? You can have an explosive offense and good special teams and double-digit wins because you have good coaching.

so incredibly difficult to get a combination of enough room to catch and run

I fail to see how this is an issue. Everyone else in the country can do it.

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We also don’t attempt to put pressure on the opposing teams punter. If he has no reason to get the kick off quickly, their coverage can get to our return man before he has time to catch and move.

You make great points, especially going back to last year and pointing out explosive offenses that like to return kicks. But not sure I agree with the above statement unless you have time to go back and research everyone. But I do agree we are way too conservative in this regard and I’m 99.9% sure that’s a coaching issue.

Yup. If we are just going to fair catch we should at least try to block the kick.

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This leads to Tony Levine being the first special teams coach/recruiting coordinator to get a 10 year no buyout, $250K a year, 8-5 M-F deal in the history of college football.

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But not sure I agree with the above statement unless you have time to go back and research everyone.

90 teams returned more punts than we did last year. 110 teams have done it this year. So not only are we in the bottom 10% in return yards, we are well into the bottom third in attempts.

I think they are gun shy after fumble in Rice game. Do not think they are comfortable with what they have for returners.

Just for clarity, I’m assuming an attempt includes no gain, loss of yardage as well as penalties against the return team. My point is that I think (and I emphasize the word “think” because I don’t know) that our coaches have taken the view of “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” toward punt returns. I’m not saying I agree with that, but I can see the logic. I will say that if we’re going to stick a dynamic guy like Bryson or Marquez back there, we should try way more often than we do.

I’ve noticed a lot of times we don’t have the ability to return one due to the hang time and/or tacklers being on top of it.

Another tally in the “Why don’t we have a dedicated Special Teams Coordinator.”

Solid analysis @anon62323653

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