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SEC special teams rankings

The ESPN position rankings are wrapping up, with special teams the last unit to cover. Chris Low and Edward Aschoff have ranked from top to bottom the best individual players and player groups in the SEC and the results were not too favorable for Kentucky. That was, until the special teams unit rolled in.

Offensive linemen may be one of the most underappreciated players on the field for any team. Unless you consider your punter and kicker — which fans often do forget about — we want touchdowns every series, right? Place-kickers and punters are extremely important to a team, because let’s face it, nobody’s perfect. Especially not Kentucky.

The overall score for the Cats isn’t fantastic, but it’s the best ranking they have received thus far, coming in at No. 11 on their list.

11. Kentucky: Senior place-kicker Craig McIntosh has gone from walk-on to one of the most dependable place-kickers in the SEC. He made 12-of-14 field goals last season and also took over the kickoff duties later in the season. Replacing punter Ryan Tydlacka won’t be easy, and the Wildcats’ return game was non-existent in 2011. They were last in the SEC in punt return average (1.8 yards).

The kicking game will not be an issue this year. McIntosh returns with a stellar foot that will surely be beneficial for the Cats when the offense isn’t quite clicking. But when McIntosh’s golden leg isn’t quite in range, Ryan Tydlacka’s departure leaves a void as a punter which will surely be noticed this season. There is there is no one on the roster to replace his booming 45-yarders yet.

On the other side receiving the punts, Randall Burden barely registered in the stat column, with a pitiful 34 punt return yards on the season. With other, now more mature athletes on the team and Burden graduated, maybe we see Joker Phillips try somebody with a little flair. Not that there is another Randall Cobb on this team, but when he returned punts there was always a chance for a score. Put somebody dynamic back there that can make plays happen.

While the collective score is nothing to brag about, individual praise is the real kicker (pun intended). When Low and Aschoff broke down the place-kickers, McIntosh impressed them enough to be ranked as a top-five SEC kicker.

5. Craig McIntosh, Sr., Kentucky: He turned out to be one of Kentucky’s best offensive weapons last fall, hitting 12 of 14 (85.7) field goals, including a long of 48. The Wildcats have more optimism concerning their offense and finding individual playmakers, but McIntosh will yet again be key for Kentucky in the points department.

McIntosh was named to the Lou Groza Award watch list, given to the nation’s most outstanding place-kicker. He is one of 30 players on the pre-season list, which includes five other kickers from the SEC. The Lexington native has nailed nearly 80 percent of his field goal attempts in the last two seasons, with a career long of 50-yards.

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

11 Comments for SEC special teams rankings

  1. UK punter friend
    7:03 pm July 23, 2012 Permalink

    This just shows me how you guys really know nothing about who we recruited. It’s shameful!

  2. Oh no...
    7:14 pm July 23, 2012 Permalink

    Ole Miss is much higher than us on Special Teams…this does not bode well for us holding onto that #13 spot overall.

  3. CatGrad7072
    7:29 pm July 23, 2012 Permalink

    I guess 11 in something is better than we have been doing. HA!

  4. Joe Mansour
    7:46 pm July 23, 2012 Permalink

    Is Stuart writing me off, or does he just not know I exist? I was a top 15 kicker/punter out of High School!

  5. UKIT
    8:18 pm July 23, 2012 Permalink

    I stand corrected, “true UK fans”, UK is making strides – we’re all the way up to 11 out of 14, in special teams. Progress! Give Joker a contract extention.

    Truth here, 7 or more teams in this league could have NO special teams and still beat us. They could not punt on 4th down, instead of kick off – give UK the ball on the 40, and not kick extra points, and we’d still lose.

    We should see if Minnesota could take another one off our hands.

  6. Oops
    9:40 pm July 23, 2012 Permalink

    UK should land the stud punter and field goal kicker each year, no excuses, Joker.

    Sad when our punter has more kicks per game than our QB has completions : looking at you Morgan Newton (yeah, yeah, i’m sure he’s a nice kid and all – he’s just not SEC QB material).

  7. joker fan
    9:51 pm July 23, 2012 Permalink

    They did #6, wake up pal.

  8. tyson
    10:30 pm July 23, 2012 Permalink

    what happened to Joe Mansour? When he signed with UK, you would’ve thought we had another Tim Couch with the amount of hype we heard on this site. Is he still with the team?

  9. Common Sense
    11:30 pm July 23, 2012 Permalink

    Truth here, you are a complete idiot. We are not Henry Clay High School playing Team USA in basketball. Joker is doing a good job, it’s people like you that are to blind to realize it.
    Whats wrong with Morgan Newton? When a former beloved UK QB (Lorenzen) says that Newton is a great QB then he must be. He still has a great amount of talent, he just needs to relax. If you really want factual support, check out Newton’s stat line for the UofL game last season, and keep in mind that most of those in-completions were dropped passes.
    Mansour is still on the team, but yea he has been disappointing so far.

  10. Beavis
    6:32 am July 24, 2012 Permalink

    # 9,,,,,after reading your posts,,,why are you calling someone else an idiot ??? You have people on here that understand the football program is heading in the wrong direction and you call them idiots for not blindly following along. You seem to be grasping for any positive news on the program and thats fine. If you like mediocrity,,,thats fine also.

  11. Beavis is an idiot
    9:25 am July 24, 2012 Permalink

    I think in your case, Beavis, you are truly an idiot. You type like my dog would, were he given the opportunity. I can see you’re well familiar with mediocrity in general, given your communication skills. Should I ever need an expert, I’ll make sure to log in and look for the posts with commas replacing spaces at random intervals. To address the content, such as it is, of your post: There are those who see only the negatives and those who see only the positives surrounding the football program. Both are willfully ignorant of the football program’s bigger picture. You are included in this group.