John Bunch - AStateNation

Arkansas State in the New Orleans Bowl, looking forward to 2016, special teams

A final look at AState's special teams in the New Orleans Bowl and a look forward to 2016.

Special teams were a strength for the Red Wolves in 2015. In a short time special teams play has gone from fans holding their breath, crossing their fingers, and hoping to avoid disaster to opportunities to break a game open.

Bowl Game Special Teams

Blaise Taylor had a 41 yard punt return to set up a 25 yard touchdown drive that tied the game in addition to his 98 yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Luke Ferguson punted five times for a 40 yard average with three downed inside the 20. He had six kickoffs and Tech started inside the 20 after four of those, there was one touchback and one return to the 34. J.D. White was successful on both PAT’s and both field goal attempts.

2016 Special Teams

You would already feel good about the return side with Chris Murray and Blaise Taylor returning despite the loss of J.D. McKissic who had a kickoff returned for a TD at Toledo. Trosin served as the second deep returner on kickoffs but rarely got the touches. Taylor ended up the year with a punt return TD and kickoff return TD. Murray has shown the potential to be explosive in addition to being responsible for downing several punts inside the 20 as a gunner. Add to the mix Cameron Echols-Luper, honorable mention All-Big XII as a punt returner as a potential contender for return duties.

John Bunch - AStateNation

Replacing Luke Ferguson will be a tall order. A-State is currently 13th in the nation in net punting giving up slightly more than a half yard in returns per punt and 4.7 yards per returned punt. The Red Wolves are 20th in kickoff return defense. Additionally he was the holder on field goal attempts.

The deep snapper position was held by Ryan Eustace, the junior will obviously have the inside track to retain the position as a senior next year.

Ferguson gave opponents a long field to deal with after kickoffs and punts. Replacing Ferguson will be the tremendous challenge facing special teams in 2016. White was the back-up for kickoff and punting duties in 2015, given the struggle A-State had in 2014 with Ferguson trying to do all three jobs it seems likely that the jobs will be split up.

Jeff Reed's earlier interview with Ferguson