Spring Review: Special Teams

Mike Gundy's team generally doesn't do a lot of special teams work during the spring. It's not an out-of-sight, out-of-mind situation as Gundy is always aware of special teams since they have been a backbone of the success of OSU football in the Gundy era.

Fans have been frustrated with special teams since the departure of former associate head coach and special teams coordinator Joe DeForest, who left to join Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia.

Of course, I can remember some times during DeForest's tenure that fans were upset with the coverage of kickoffs. DeForest would call me because his wife was hearing the complaints on the radio show and he was mad and wanted to come on the radio and address those fans. It goes to show you that you can't please everybody all the time.

The new special teams coach is former Sam Houston State assistant Robbie Discher. He left Huntsville, Texas to take a graduate assistant position and head up the Cowboys special teams.

This spring Discher addressed the specialists and worked on getting improvement out of kicker Ben Grogan, punter/kickoff specialist Kip Smith, and worked with new snapper Kaleb Smith and holder Richard Lagow.

OSU worked some on kickoff returns and kick coverage with very limited work on punts and punt coverage or returns. One situation that was identified and tested was newcomer Tyreek Hill on kickoff returns. Gundy was anxious to see if Hill's electric speed would work on kickoff returns and whether he could handle the ball. He did and the speed was evident.

Now, a major chore in the fall will be finding plenty of help on coverage units for kickoffs and punts. There will be some freshmen that will get the chance to participate on those units, but in drill work in the spring the coaching staff was able to find plenty of help.

Look for Ashton Lampkin, Kevin Peterson, Darius Curry, Jerel Morrow, Taylor Lewis, Elliott Jeffcoat, Jordan Sterns, Deric Robertson, Larry Stephens and DeShawn Franklin to be involved. Some of those are starters, but the Cowboys will use some starters in special teams coverage.

Seth Jacobs, Dominic Ramacher, Dawson Bassett, Teddy Johnson, Jeremy Seaton, Kameron Doolittle, Blake Jarwin and Jordan Frazier are all prime candidates to help out. There are others too as speed, agility and open-field tackling ability are the premium talents that the staff is looking for.

Next year the games are going to be closer. Oklahoma State will open with the defending national champions in Florida State and then play three teams I believe will be among the favorites in the Big 12 on the road. The Cowboys will be at Kansas State, at Baylor, and at Oklahoma.

Special teams making momentum or chunk plays and not making mistakes will go a long way toward helping to win those more difficult games on the schedule for 2014.

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