Shannon: Kicking Jobs Are Open

The Hurricanes have struggled tremendously on special teams so far this season. They're among the worst teams, nationally, in that department and head coach Randy Shannon says that needs to change. Read on to see what he's doing about it...

Make no mistake about it -- the Hurricanes have struggled a lot on special teams so far this season. They're among the worst teams in the ACC when it comes to punting and field goal kicking. And for a team loaded with good athletes, they're surprisingly near the bottom of the conference in punt return average as well.

Matt Bosher ranks 12th among ACC punters with an average of 35.72 yards per try. Franceso Zampogna has hit just 9-of-14 field goals this season, having missed three inside 40 yards. And on kickoffs, Daren Daly has only put one of his 25 attempts into the endzone for a touchback. Randy Shannon talked about the situation.

"We're competing," Shannon said. "We need a punter, need a field goal kicker who can kick a field goal. It's open season again this week in practice. We can't miss field goals like we have been. Now we gotta open it up."

If you recall, Bosher came here as a kicker and Daly as a punter. Those roles were reversed before the season when each player looked better in their new roles. Could they possibly switch back?

"Whoever will do a good job this week will be the one kicking in the game," Shannon said, indicating that he doesn't care who it is doing what, as long as the job gets done.

In the return game, Ryan Hill has been solid. He ranks first in the conference in kickoff return average (26.7). That's been a pleasant surprise for the Hurricanes. However, they've struggled to get punt return yardage. Graig Cooper is averaging just 5.25 yards per return. Darnell Jenkins showed flashes with a big 68-yard return against North Carolina last week. Shannon talked about that.

"Darnell can be a good kick returner but not a great one," he said. "That was an opportunity coach Pannunzio and I talked about. That was one of the plays we made up in that situation, to see what Darnell can do."

The return game seems to be much less of a concern, both on paper and in the eyes of the head coach. Recruiting good ones isn't always easy.

"It's hard to find a kicker these days," he said. "Most kickers in high school kick off a tee. You can't just go off film. You gotta go to practice, see them kick off the ground. When you find one, grab them quickly."

With the recent offer to Cardinal Gibbons High senior Blair Walsh on the recruiting front, the Hurricanes are clearly looking at bringing in a kicker in this year's recruiting class.

"We're evaluating some guys and gotta make sure we get the right guy in here," he said. "That's a big time priority for next year."

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