It had to be expected that the Utes would have a drop off on special teams after losing all conference kicker Joe Phillips and All American returner Shaky Smithson, but there were a lot more struggles than might have been anticipated.
Nick Marsh doesn't appear to be the answer at kicker. His field goal attempt in the spring game pretty much summed up the kicking game in the spring overall... 30 feet left. Walk-on Coleman Peterson wasn't significantly better than Marsh, and didn't seem to have the leg, but showed more consistency.
Sean Sellwood struggled at the end of of last season, but looks like he's close to returning to the form he showed in the first half of 2010 where he was one of the best kickers in the country. Nick Marsh will be his backup should Sellwood faulter for any reason.
In the return game, it's going to be hard to replace an all-time like Shaky Smithson. Reggie Dunn was explosive last season returning kickoffs and took one back and has one of the spots locked in. For the other spot, the Utes tried a multitude of players from Luke Matthews, to John White, to even Harvey Langi. Dres Anderson showed a ton of speed and elusiveness and will get a shot at some point. Ryan Lacy did a good job of following blocks and getting solid returns, but doesn't have the explosiveness of Anderson. I'd like to see John White back there more, but he didn't have a ton of opportunities.
Punt returning is a different animal. The most important aspect is catching the ball first, and that isn't always easy. The coaches didn't see it this way, but I liked what Damian Payne did. He was always catching the ball and got upfield quickly. Griffin McNabb catches it well, but doesn't make many plays after that. Dres Anderson also got looks, but Payne was better in my eyes.
Overall Special Teams Spring Grade: D+
Inside The Utes Depth Chart Coming Out of Spring
Reggie Dunn AND
Spring Recap- Special Teams
Ute Zone Top Stories
Position Grades: Utah vs. USCSteve Bartle grades each position group following Utah's big 31-27 win over USC.
Ute ZoneYesterday at 1:09 AM
Video Recap: Utah vs. USCUteZone's Michelle Bodkin recaps Utah's thrilling win over USC Friday night.
Ute ZoneYesterday at 12:39 AM
Game Matchups: Utah Defense vs. USC OffenseUteZone breaks down the position matchups between the USC offense and the Utah defense in tonight's Pac-12 opener for the Utes.
Ute ZoneFriday at 9:43 AM
Dimick embodies 'Hometown Hero'Senior defensive end Hunter Dimick has truly been a "Hometown Hero" for the Utes. And his journey has been well worth the effort.
Ute ZoneThursday at 6:22 PM