CU game notes and analysis: special teams

Notes and analysis on the Horns' special teams performance in their 41-7 win over Colorado:

Dan Smith, who started the first three games of the season but missed the last three after pulling a hip flexor muscle in the Houston contest, sent the opening kickoff, with a strong tailwind, eight yards deep into the end zone. Smith sent his second attempt, also in the first quarter with the wind, five yards deep. Into the wind in the second quarter, Dusty Mangum momentarily took over the kickoff duties and pooched his attempt out of bounds around the Colorado 30, setting the Buffs up with solid field position at the 35 for their first (and only) scoring drive. Smith took back over after the Horns extended their lead to 17-7, sending his first into-the-wind attempt to the 13, where Roman Hollowell fielded and returned 15 yards to the 28. Smith had one more first half kick into the teeth of the wind, sending a high pooch kick to the 35 where CU downed the ball. After the break, Smith turned in his strongest effort, nailing one to the five despite the heavy headwind. Hollowell returned that one 22 yards. The juco transfer kicker sent his next attempt sailing out of bounds, again giving the Buffs starting field position at the 35. On his final kickoff of the day, again with the wind, Smith hit it to the goalline, allowing Hollowell a return, which turned into a 22 yard gain. For the game, Colorado's average starting field position was the 28 and no drive started past the 35. Overall, not a bad performance from the kickers and kickoff coverage team, but the Horns' inability to consistently kick the ball deep into the end zone, even with the benefit of a strong wind, remains troublesome.

Mangum turned in a near-perfect place kicking performance, hitting both of his field goal attempts (from 21 and 34 yards) as well as all five extra points. The true freshman also pinned Colorado at its own eight with a pooch kick out of a field goal formation.

Victor Ike, back in deep return with Ervis Hill after sitting out a week with bruised ribs, returned one kick for 27 yards. For comparison purposes, on the kickoff that Ike returned, CU kicker Pat Brougham sent his into-the-wind effort to the goalline.

Punt returner Nathan Vasher, who had been held in check since his spectacular performance vs. North Carolina in the second week of the season, busted loose for a 44-yard return against Colorado. The sophomore fielded a third quarter Jeremy Flores punt at the 38 and sprinted to mid-field before heading to left sideline. Vasher put a move on poor Flores, who must have felt mired in molasses, at about the 30 but the punter slowed Vasher enough to allow Joey Johnson to run him out 18 yards short of the goalline. On his other return attempt, the CU coverage team stopped Vasher for a one-yard loss.

Brian Bradford punted as well as he's punted while on the Forty Acres, averaging 37.6 yards on his five punts despite sending three of them into the strong southerly wind. Bradford put two of his attempts inside the 20, and the punt coverage team limited dangerous return man Hollowell to just one return for six yards.

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