Pat Kinnison

Spring Football: What's Next On Special Teams

Both kicker Ben Grogan and punter Zach Sinor return for the Cowboys, but Mike Gundy is determined to find someone who can put kickoffs in the end zone.

We've analyzed last season, we've reviewed each position, and now you've seen all but one remaining video with Anna-Marie Ahrberg and I discussing the 15 most interesting players coming into spring football at Oklahoma State.

For a few minutes let's get serious. The Oklahoma State Cowboys have 15 allotted spring practice days from the NCAA. The first two days are acclimatization days and then there are only a few days where they can really set the ball down and go full speed. Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy would likely enjoy seeing the full package working more often than what is allowed, but his team can accomplish plenty working in smaller parts.

Now when it comes to special teams there is some work to be done in the spring, but it is more with the specialist and some technique drills on open field blocking, getting off blocks, and open field tackling and field coverage. The bulk of special teams for the fall gets its work in fall camp as the complete newcomer class will have arrived and those guys certainly can work into duty on the special teams depth chart. Still, here are the areas that we see in special teams that could see attention from Gundy and his staff including new special teams coordinator Steve Hauser.


Gundy admitted after the season that even with the new rule that puts kickoffs that are touchbacks at the 25-yard line he would like to see kickoffs go out of the end zone more often or at least enough that they go unreturned. That sentiment prevails even though kickoffs that are shorter and are covered often wind up short of the 25-yard line.

Gundy said he has had enough and will look for a kicker that can put that added distance on the football. He mentioned Matt Ammedola, the red-shirt freshman kicker out of Pennsylvania. Another option is also Norman, Oklahoma native Matt Hockett, who last season backed up Ben Grogan. I'm sure that both got a little extra attention from the strength staff during offseason as they were working toward that goal.

Gundy will have kickoffs thoroughly charted and the reward for the winner should he be able to consistently get the touchbacks will be a scholarship at as early availability as possible. It is the head coach's pet project.

Zach Sinor

Gundy was happy with Zach Sinor last season as the punter is exceptional when it comes to directional kicking, and coverage teams love that about Sinor. The one thing everybody would love is about five yards more distance and a little bit of extra hang time. Now that could be considered a little greedy with an average punt of 40.3 and an average net punt of 38.1, but in football greed is not a terrible thing.

Return Game

This actually won't get a thorough going over but it will get some work and the incumbent for return duty is Jalen McCleskey. I love him because he catches the punts and as the season progressed he learned that he could also fair catch it.

My problem was before McCleskey there were way too many punts left to bounce and roll for up to 20 to 25 yards of extra field position on punt exchanges. That's unacceptable! McCleskey remains my guy unless somebody else proves they will catch all the punts.

Kickoffs are easy and in the end I also like McCleskey's 4.37 speed, but if Jeff Carr (4.35) or Bryce Balous (4.33) decide they will catch all the punts then I am more than willing to look at them. That freshman class last season packed a lot of speed.   

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