While this year's special teams units have some large question marks, they also provide some hope.
Flint, a senior from Bend, took over the kicking duties halfway through the season, finishing perfect on PAT's (28-28) and hitting seven of nine field goals (long of 39 yards).
While he may not have the strongest of legs, he showed consistent form.
At punter, the job appears to be Rice's to lose. The son of former National Football League punter Mike Rice averaged 47.6 yards per punt last season at Campolindo High School (Moraga, California), winning the 2008-09 Maxwell Award for the best senior punter.
Jairus Byrd's decision to
bypass his senior season for the National Football League not only deprived
Backup punt returner Aaron Pflugrad also left the program this spring after his father was not retained as
wide receivers coach (transfer to
There are way too many candidates to speculate on whom will return punts this season for the Ducks. You could put all of the wide receivers, running backs and defensive backs' names in a hat and pick one, as almost all have experience returning kicks in high school.
The Ducks have much more experience at kickoff return specialist. Walter Thurmond III also finished third in the Pac-10 in kickoff returns (25.1 avg.). His return to open the second half of the Holiday Bowl started the Ducks as they rolled off 35 second half points.
Joining Thurmond on the return
team at the end of last season was speedster Jamere Holland.
The coverage units also figure to be strong as the Ducks return a lot of key contributors from last season. Also, Duck players wear a badge of pride when named to one of these teams, so the competition during practice is often fierce and spirited. This is one of the main reasons you will see a lot of starting offensive and defensive players on these units.
Perhaps the key returner for
As long as Osborne is coaching the unit, Duck fans expect the special teams to "be special."