With the loss of Marquis Maze, Alabama will now attempt to find a quality return man for both kickoff and punt return duties.
On the kicking and punting front, ‘Bama will have returning starters…but inconsistent returning starters. Mediocre punting in 2011, coupled with the well documented struggles of Cade Foster, and at times, Jeremy Shelley, have left the Tide with familiar faces…yet uncertain results.
The prominent players
LS Carson Tinker
H AJ McCarron
K Jeremy Shelley
K Cade Foster
P Cody Mandell
K Adam Griffith
Potential kick/punt returners
DB Deion Belue
DB Dee Milliner
RB Dee Hart
WR Christion Jones
WR Amari Cooper
Jeremy Shelley connects on a 41-yard field goal in the BCS title game
In terms of “the kicking battle” for playing time, look no further than Cade Foster, and freshman Adam Griffith. Barring injury, Jeremy Shelley will be the “go to” kicker for ‘Bama in 2012, but Foster and Griffith will be vying for the coveted backup or “partially shared duty” role.
Alabama is so strong, especially on the defensive side, that a lackluster special teams effort can almost be “excused” by most fans. However, those same fans have seen what sloppy kickoff coverage and “ill-timed” missed field goals can do to the complexion of a game.
In 2011, the Auburn Tigers never scored an offensive touchdown against the Tide, but they did return the second half kickoff for a score, and anyone who follows college football to any degree, remembers the costly missed field goals against LSU during the regular season meeting.
Special teams don’t really matter…until they do. Alabama is without question one of the top teams in the nation entering the 2012 season, but if one area needs consistency, it would be the special teams department.
Unit Rating: 6/10