Special Teams Searching for Rebound

Injuries, missed assignments and poor performance have led to a special teams struggle over the last week. Syracuse will try to combat the issue on a short week.

Kicker Ross Krautman is dealing with a groin issue, the coverage units have been dealing with missed tackles and punter Jonathan Fisher tailed off in the loss to Connecticut. Coach Doug Marrone harps on being effective in all three phases of the game, but Syracuse special teams took a big step back in last week's loss to Connecticut. South Florida, one of the fastest teams in the conference, will be in the Carrier Dome less than a week after the special teams mistakes helped prevent SU from winning the field position battle.

"Field position became a major factor (against UConn)," Marrone said, adding that special teams and a lack of early offense had to do with it.

Several factors are contributing to the lull, mainly injurieds.

"(Krautman)is going through a groin," Marrone added. "Ross said he was ready to go (last week) and we trust him – and we still trust him."

The kicker had to sprint on the opening kickoff to try and make a tackle on Nick Williams, who nearly returned the opening kick for a touchdown. Krautman later missed a field goal and struggled to get kickoffs as deep down the field as he normally does.

"(The injury) did bother me, a little bit," Krautman admitted. "But then I just forgot about it and I just moved on. My confidence is high; I'm always excited to play. "

Krautman will be ready to go on Friday, hoping to avoid a repeat performance. He sat out of Monday's practice to rest the ailment and treat it further.

Punting has also been an issue recently, as Fisher shanked three kicks that each failed to travel 30 yards down the field.

"He's been doing a very god job for us, but it almost seems that when there's competition there, he's been actually doing better," Marrone said. "So we'll have competition back with Shane (Raupers) and Jonathan (Fisher)."

Marrone is also dealing with a switch at Kyle Foster's spot on the coverage units. He has been ruled out for the South Florida tilt after suffering a lower-body injury last week.

The Bulls ranks third in the conference in punt returns, averaging just under 7 yards per return.


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