Special teams Coordinator Chris Rippon saw something on film with the Memphis punt team that convinced him the Rebs would block a punt last Saturday. And they did.
"Memphis didn't use their center in their protections and we felt we were wasting a guy by not attacking that area. Jason Cook blocked down and created a pick for Jamarca (Sanford) to shoot through. Without their center involved in the protection, they couldn't block us," Rip noted.
Sanford broke clean and blocked the punt. An alert Kendrick Lewis scooped the loose ball up and scored while being excorted by several Rebel defenders to the end zone.
"I loved it for the kids and the team. I think that lit us up and gave us a spark," Rippon continued. "It's also good when you tell the guys that something is going to come free and it does, that gives you credibility the next time you see something like that. They believe then. They pay attention then."
Beyond that, Chris was not happy with special teams play.
"I was disappointed with every aspect of special teams except the punt block," Rip said. "We had success with the kickoff unit in preseason camp. We expect some anxiety for a first-time player, but we have to kick the ball off better and we have to execute our scheme better. We had spent a great deal of time on the kickoff team and we just did not execute, which is a reflection of my teaching it to them. If one or two guys mess up, you can say they didn't get it. But when more than that mess up, you have to look at the communication and the teaching process. I take that one.
"Fortunately, we can correct that and we will do better in kickoff."
Chris was not overwhlemed by the punt team either.
"I think you saw with Justin Sparks' last punt why he is the punter right now. He's got a tremendous leg and once he settles in we will have a legitimate chance at a top one or two guy in the SEC, but he's got to be more consistent," Rippon stated. "On kickoff return, you can't put the ball on the ground. No excuse for that, yet we fumbled a kickoff return.
"But perhaps the most disappointing thing was PAT/FG. The operation, the kick - it just wasn't good."
Rippon said he could not sleep Saturday night due to the Rebs' ST play, overall.
"I had to answer all the questions before I called it a night. Did we kick enough during camp? Did we put the guys in enough pressure situations? Did we teach things properly? Before you go to sleep, you better have those questions answered," he said. "We spent more time on PAT/FG than we did last year when Josh Shene was brand new. It ended up being a timing thing and we don't know why, but we aren't going to trash Josh, he's a winner who just had a poor game. We'll get it down. We'll do a better job in all areas. Everything is correctable.
"We played a lot of kids who were getting their first experience. So you let some things slide in the first game, but we are finished with that now. It's time to produce. I anticipate we will play much better this Saturday in all phases of special teams play."
Special Teams -
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