Special Teams Preview
2013 Review: Did you cringe when you thought about reliving the Mustangs' special teams in 2013? If you did, I would not blame you. Last year's special teams unit was a disaster. It got so bad that by the end of the season, SMU starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert had a second job as the team's punter. SMU opponents averaged 21.8-yards per kickoff return and an even 16-yards per punt return against the SMU special teams coverage which often put the Mustang defense in difficult spots. The one bright spot was that Deion Sanders, Jr., did a good job returning kicks for the Mustangs. However, that was not enough to make up for the other weaknesses for the special teams unit.
2014 Preview: Things are definitely looking up for the Mustangs' special teams this season, even if that is not saying much. The biggest reason for this is freshman Jackson Koonce. The coaching staff was excited about picking him on National Signing Day last year because he has great range both as a punter and as a kicker (he set a school-record with a 52-yard field goal in high school). Having a stronger leg doing the kicking will definitely help but the SMU staff will need to do a better job with coaching the other ten guys on the field and making sure they stay on their assignments because a good kick does not mean anything if players do not stay in their lanes.
Unknown to Watch: The great unknown is who will be returning kicks for the Mustangs this year now that Deion Sanders, Jr., will be a regular wide receiver. The best guess is redshirt freshman Everett Dickerson, who in high school was named the 2011 District 13-3A Special Teams Player of the Year. Dickerson has great speed (he also lettered in track in high school) and has a year's worth of familiarity with the SMU system. He could be a fun player to watch this year for the Mustangs.
Star of the Group: By default this goes to Koonce. Isn't it exciting to know that the Mustangs' quarterback will not be our punter too?