Special Teams Update

We have a tendency to get ahead of ourselves. The first two days, with the players just in shorts, no pads, for practice, were days for charting where guys lined up on offense and defense, and get a rough idea of who the guys would be if Alabama played Hawaii this Saturday instead of four Saturdays from now.

Naturally, then, the third day would be an appropriate time to start sizing up the special teams. Alabama special teams coordinator Dave Ungerer hadn't put together a full list of players who would be running down to cover kicks, or setting up the kickoff returns, but he did provide a rough and early look at the specialty spots.

"Kicking wise we're just getting into the beginning stages of getting Jamie (Christensen) in the groove with the snap, hold and kick," Ungerer said, "and figuring out who is going to be the number two guy, either Andrew Friedman or Leigh Tiffin."

Rest assured that Jamie Christensen will be the Tide's placekicker on opening day, however, barring an act of God. The job of punter for the season isn't sewn up so tightly, but P.J. Fiztgerald is slightly ahead in the early work.

Repetitions on live punts have been limited, "but P.J. has the best hang time and average so far," Ungerer said.

Fitzgerald is also the holder on Christensen's field goal attempts, and Luke Spalding the back-up. The respective back-ups and holder and snapper are Marc Guillon and Brian Selmon.

Anyone wondering whether the coaching staff would use a true freshman in such a pressure-packed position as the punt returner should already have the answer. Javier Arenas has looked good so far, but not flawless.

On Thursday, Ungerer mentioned seven players who were trying their hand at punt returns in the early stages of fall camp, and four of those players are true freshman: Tremayne Coger, Terry Grant, Jake Jones and Arenas.

The other players who have a chance to return punts are D.J. Hall, Simeon Castille and Matt Caddell. Ramzee Robinson fielded some kicks in the spring, but Ungerer said Robinson would be looked at as a kickoff return man, probably not as a punt return man, however.


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