December 27, 2010

Insight Matchups: Special Teams

Missouri and Iowa are set to meet for the first time in 100 years. Leading up to the December 28th Insight Bowl, we will give Tiger and Hawkeye fans an in-depth look at every position on the field.

Each day until kickoff, we will highlight a different position on the field. publisher Gabe DeArmond and publisher Tom Kakert will give fans the scoop on the key players to watch as the Tigers and Hawkeyes hook up for the 2010 season finale.

Hawkeyes Specialists

Projected starters: LT: P: Ryan Donahue, PK: Michael Meyer, PR: Paul Chaney Jr., KR: Keenan Davis and Paul Chaney Jr.

Key Player: Michael Meyer

Key Stat: owa's Ryan Donahue was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award in 2010, averaging 44.6 yards per punt, with 21 of his 51 kicks falling inside the 20 yard line.

Analysis: Special teams have been an issue this season for the Hawkeyes. Iowa's kickoff coverage unit has given up a touchdown along with several long returns this season. The Hawkeyes rank #64 nationally, but at one point their ranking was down near the bottom. Against Minnesota, Iowa's kickoff return team was caught off guard by an onside kick, and they will be without their leading kickoff return man in Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who returned a kick for a touchdown against the Gophers. Punt coverage has been solid, but the Hawkeyes punt return team has been burned by fake punts this season. Iowa's field goal kicking has been above average, but not without their fair share of mistakes. Michael Meyer took over the kicking duties follow the Arizona game and was 12-15 on field goals with a long of 42 yards. Iowa also had three misses on PAT's this season.

Tigers Specialists

Projected starters: P: Matt Grabner, K: Grant Ressel PR: Carl Gettis, KR: Marcus Murphy

Key Player: Grant Ressel

Key Stat: 3. The number of field goals Ressel has missed in two full seasons. He did miss two extra points this year (one blocked), the first PAT the Tigers had missed since 2004.

Analysis: The kicking games are very, very solid for Missouri. Ressel is almost automatic and Missouri is in the nation's top ten in net punting for a second straight year. The return games haven't been a huge weapon, though the Tigers did return the opening kickoff for a touchdown against Oklahoma. The kickoff coverage unit is a question mark. Missouri has lost field position in a few games due to poor coverage on kickoff returns.

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