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Good Special Teams Play and Limiting Penalties vs. Florida

Special Teams

(h/t Regina Rickert)

The special teams play today must be flawless if we want any chance of pulling the upset vs. Florida. No gaffes fielding the ball or coughing the ball up in the return game, no stupid penalties, and no blocked punts. Especially no blocked punts. We can’t give up easy points without our defense on the field, or else the upset looks unlikely to happen.

Punter U:

Thus far, Punter U has not really been much of a factor. It’s not that Landon Foster has done anything wrong on the field, he just hasn’t been overly impressive. He averages 41.2 yards per punt, which sounds good, but that is only good enough for 96th best in the nation among punters. If needed (definitely needed), some booming punts against Florida would be a great way to help out our field position on both sides of the ball. Kentucky has punted the ball 16 times so far this season. It would be nice to see that number decrease as we go further into the season with some sustained offensive play.

Return Game:

Javess

(h/t Regina Rickert)

Demarco Robinson is back for this game and is listed as the number one kick/punt returner on the depth chart. Getting Robinson back from injury is a huge deal as it adds a pair of experienced hands to the special team’s return team. Javess Blue, however, did do a good job as Robinson’s replacement in the past two games averaging 25.2 yards on kickoff returns. Robinson’s return adds a huge threat to the return game, he has averaged 28.2 yards on kickoff returns and 27.0 on punt returns. If he is back at full health for this game, we should start with decent field position on many of our offensive drives.

Blocking in the Return Game:

I know I’m not the only person who notices that our blocking in the return game is just awful, particularly on punt returns. Every time Blue or Robinson field the ball it’s almost as if they have to fight off a defender as soon as they catch it. Unfortunately, I don’t really think it’s something that is going to change this season.

Demarco Robinson

(h/t Regina Rickert)

With all of the youth on the team, the players haven’t fully cliqued with the system in place and you can tell that from every side of the ball. Blocking schemes on special teams are no exception to that statement. Much like the bubble screens that Kentucky used so “successfully” in previous years under Joker, no blocking on punt returns means there is no room to run. Fans will soon begin to notice that the system will run much smoother once players get more experience in the program. After all, with all the change our program sustained over the past year, we don’t fully know what to expect from the coaching staff and players.

Penalties:

We are the underdogs in this game, we cannot give up yards off penalties on any side of the ball. Kentucky needs all the help they can get in today’s match-up and penalties are huge momentum changers. In terms of penalties, our best game of the season came last week against Louisville when we only had four penalties for 34 yards. If UK can keep the yellow flags off the field against Florida, our chances to come out with a win get even better.

Special Teams 2

(h/t Regina Rickert)

Solid performances in special teams play and limiting penalties are vital to our performance against Florida. Along with not making any mistakes fielding kicks and punts, the special team’s defense also can’t give up any big plays against Florida. A big part of pulling off an upset against a team loaded with talent and experience is controlling the special teams. Starting with better average field position, making big plays such as big returns and causing turnovers, and not giving Florida a yard they didn’t earn will all be key tonight. UK needs things to go their way today and special teams is a good place to start to pull off the upset against the Gators in Commonwealth!

Go Cats.

@kaansoloKSR

Article written by Kaan Solagan

Senior at the University of Kentucky. Atherton High School Alumnus. "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." - The Greatest