Tide Kicker Adam Griffith, Punter JK Scott and Long-Snapper Cole Mazza Star on Special Teams

Special teams are a vital component to winning football games. Although rarely emphasized in pregame press conferences, this overlooked unit can be the determining factor in the outcome of a close contest. Execution and performance by the placekicker and punter are crucial in games with two evenly matched teams. The long snapper is a vital member of the ensemble as well.

Since missing the first four field goal attempts to start the year, Adam Griffith has nailed 22 of 26 to finish as the number two scorer on the team with 122 points.  He is a perfect 56-56 on extra points and recorded a single season career-best total of 51 touchbacks out of 93 (63.4%).  Griffith trails only Leigh Tiffin (132 points, 30 FG’s, 42 PAT’s, 2009) for special teams points scored in a season.  A seminal moment occurred in the closing seconds prior to halftime of the LSU game.  Nick Saban sent the punt team out but a timeout discussion resulted in game and season changing moment.  Griffith trotted out from the sidelines and booted a career high 55-yard field goal matching the school record without the use of a kicking tee.  The points not only gave Alabama a 13-10 lead but boosted the confidence of the Polish born kicker.  He was perfect on all six kicks – three FG’s and three extra points against the Tigers earning him the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. 

Rated the nation’s number one placekicking prospect coming out of Calhoun HS (GA) in 2012, he is prepared to fulfill his role in the event his number is called on Monday evening.  The 5-10, 192 pound redshirted junior was named a 2015 Second Team All-SEC selection by the league’s coaches.  Saban has touted Griffith’s abilities all season even during the short-lived slump.  He has the full endorsement of the head coach in the event a game winning kick is required.

Sophomore JK Scott closely resembles the physique and punting style of Ray Guy.  His full-leg extension pointing towards the sky along with a 6-5, 195 pound angular body conjures up memories of the Pro Football Hall of Fame member.  He was a Ray Guy Award Finalist and Freshman All-American last year.  Scott, from the Rocky Mountain state (Mullen HS, CO) grew up a fan of the Denver Broncos emulating All-Pro punter Tom Rouen.  He began the year slowly after producing the best season for a punter in Alabama football history as a true freshman in 2014 averaging 48.0 yards per kick. 

He gradually worked out the technical kinks earning the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his efforts against the Tennessee Volunteers.  Scott has forced 13 fair catches, had nine touchbacks, pinned 22 inside the 20 and boomed 20 50 plus yards with a long of 59.  After 63 punts he is averaging 44.4 yards per game in 2015.  Game changing field position punts are his specialty.  Scott’s propensity for accuracy and distance is counted on to give the Tide an edge.

Rarely is the name of the long-snapper mentioned unless there is an error in execution.  Junior Cole Mazza has been perfect in the dozen games he started in 2015.  He has been flawless in all 38 games as a starter for the Tide.  The West Coast (Liberty HS, Bakersfield, CA) bred junior, rated as the top prep prospect at his position by Scout.com coming out in 2012,  is a key contributor to the success of the special teams.

BamaMag.com met with the trio at the designated media day held at the Phoenix Convention Center on Saturday morning.  Listen and watch as they discuss their techniques, routines and methods in pursuit of perfection.  The Alabama Crimson Tide (no. 2, 13-1, 7-1) faces off in the College Football National Championship Game against the ACC Champion Clemson Tigers (no. 1, 14-0, 8-0) on Monday evening at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The game is slated to be broadcast at 7:30 PM CT on ESPN.

 


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