Senior Trey Barrow finished up the 2011 season as both punter and kicker. In his first season as Missouri's full-time punter, Barrow averaged a single-season school record 44.8 yards/punt, which ranked ninth in the NCAA, and second in the Big 12.
Late in the season, Barrow took over the placekicking duties, and finished the 2011 season 7-9 on field goals, and 23-23 on PATs. His longest make was from 39 yards.
So, Barrow entered the spring as the starter at both spots. But late in the spring, red-shirt freshman, Andrew Baggett, moved ahead of Barrow in the competition for the placekicking job. During the spring scrimmages, Bagget made just 9-16 field goal attempts. But, that left him ahead of Barrow, who managed to make just 8-17 field goal attempts.
Barrow continued to excel as the punter, as he averaged nearly 45 yards/punt during the scrimmages this spring. Barrow just needs to continue to work on hang time, and on dropping the ball inside the 10-yard line.
Coming out of the spring, Coach Pinkel indicated that he was not pleased with the performance of his kickers. While it appears that Bagget will head into August as the number one place-kicker, the competition for the placekicking position will be wide-open during fall camp.
As for other specialists, spring football was a chance to get a look at some of the guys competing for positions as deep-snapper, holder, and return men.
Since Brad Madison missed all of Spring Football, there were several players who were looked at this spring to handle the snapping chores. Joe Plevel showed himself capable, although it appears that the job is Madison's to begin fall camp. He's been Beau Brinkley's back-up for four years, and has done a good job when called upon.
T.J. Moe appeared to be the number one punt returner and the number one kick returner. Marcus Murphy is another option at both return spots. Late in spring, E.J. Gaines appeared to be the number two punt returner, and Kendial Lawrence appeared to be the number two kick returner.
There are very few live returns during the spring, so it's not an easy task to identify return men, except for the ability to catch the football.
There were several practice periods assigned to working on setting up returns, and covering kicks and punts. But, those drills were rarely done live. The emphasis was on fundamentals, and assignments. Hopefully, the end result is improved special teams play in the fall.
Coach Pinkel's biggest concern coming out of the spring regarding special teams has to be the placekicking situation. Near the end of the spring, Coach Pinkel addressed his concerns over the identification and development of a capable placekicker. He indicated that it would be an area of emphasis during the summer, and heading into fall camp.
As I look at Baggett and Barrow, both guys have the leg. I think Bagget may have the edge in leg strength. And, both guys are capable of making kicks. They've both shown that they are. What was missing this spring was consistency. Coming out of the spring and heading into the summer, this is probably the biggest question mark on the team.