August 31, 2007

A&M special teams among the best in the land

Special teams in the past have usually consisted of placekicking, punting and return men with kickoff coverage being an afterthought in the minds of most college football fans. In 2007 all that changes as kickoffs get moved back five yards to the 30-yard line.


The result is widely thought to be more returns, less touchbacks and better field position for offenses. The change is something that Texas A&M head coach Dennis Franchione believes is going to make things interesting.


"If you can't kick it out, you may be directionally kicking it to a spot or you may, what we call kangaroo, or sky kicking it maybe more than normal, especially in wind situations," Franchione said. "It's going to be interesting to see how how it all transpires with the change. I don't think any of us are going to say that we don't like this rule, but it is going to make an impact."


The Aggies have the fortunate luxury of sophomore kicker Matt Szymanski who handles kickoffs last season as a true freshman that graduated high school a full year early.


"He had a least one today that was at least four or five yards into the end zone," Franchione said after a scrimmage in August. "There was a little breeze behind him, but it wasn't that strong. With any kind of wind behind him at all I think there's a chance that we can kick it non-returnable."


In 2006 when he was kicking off from the 35-yard line, Szymanski was solid. He kicked 25 for touchbacks in 69 kickoffs with only one sailing out of bounds. A lot of those kickoffs, however, were sky kicks that eventually pinned A&M's opponents within the 20-yard line.



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