Hi 92 / Lo 76
|Volume 68, Issue 1, Monday,
August 26, 2002
New coach revamps not-so-special teams
By Brad Sebastian
On a muggy Wednesday afternoon at the Cougars' practice facility, the
very last players to step off the field are a place kicker, a holder and
Attention to detail in special teams play is often the difference between
winning and losing. And if new special teams coordinator Joe Robinson
"My expectations from the guys (on special teams) are to give great
effort and to help us be efficient in practice," Robinson said. "So far
Robinson was hired over the offseason to turn around a special teams
unit that has been the target of much criticism over the last few seasons.
"I don't have anything to say about last season," Robinson said. "I was at Louisiana Tech. Our focus is on the next game."
The Cougars are hoping Robinson will bring a fresh approach and philosophy that will bring about improved special teams play in 2002.
Robinson spent last season as Louisiana Tech's running backs coach and
recruiting coordinator. He helped the Bulldogs win the Western
Robinson is considered one of the top special teams coaches in the country.
During his tenure at Southern Mississippi, Robinson's special
"If the guys do their job and we get them in the right places, then
we'll see statistical improvement, better field position and big plays,"
doesn't matter what our stats are, as long as we win games."
An immediate issue Robinson must address before Saturday's opener against
Rice will be replacing last season's starting kicker Jeff
One of the few special teams strengths last season was the performance
of junior punter Jimmy McClary. In three of the last four games,
With a wealth of speed throughout the offense and defense, there are
several capable candidates for kickoff and punt returning positions for
Middleton and Daniels led the Cougars in kickoff and punt returns last season respectively.
The Cougars averaged 17.2 yards per return on kickoffs and 3.9 yards
on punt returns while managing only one special teams touchdown
At deep snapper, sophomore Thomas Gafford is listed as the starter. His likely backup will be fellow sophomore Corbin Mozisek.
Robinson feels he has the talent and the chemistry to create noticeable
changes in special teams. While coaching the special teams requires
"As long as we win, nothing else really matters," Robinson said. "As long as we beat Rice, everybody will be happy."
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