Today kicks off a new feature where we award Helmet Stickers for outstanding individual efforts from the previous week’s game. The goal of these Helmet Stickers is to bring recognition to some of the more "unsung heroes" from the previous game, whose performance might have gone unnoticed by some viewers or fans even though they directly contributed to the outcome of the game.
As I’m sure you all remember, we are fresh off of a dramatic, last-second 27-24 win over Virginia Tech. Justin Thomas, DeAndre Smelter, and Zach Laskey all put up ridiculous numbers on offense and combined for over 90% of the team’s total yards. These headline stats are definitely impressive and were crucial to the Jackets’ victory, but what about some of the other players?
Today’s first helmet sticker goes to punter Ryan Rodwell. The very nature of punting can often cause most fans to groan when they see their team’s punter trotting out onto the field, but we’ve got ourselves a good one in Rodwell; he put together one of the best games of his career this past weekend. He only punted four times, but had an average of 46.8 yards/punt on the day (a new career high) and set a new career long at 55 yards. This comes just one week after setting his previous career high for average yards/punt in a game - he averaged 43.8 yards per punt and dropped four inside the 20 against Georgia Southern. Winning the field position battle often translates to winning games, and Rodwell is definitely doing his part on that front for us.
The next helmet sticker goes to B-back Zach Laskey, but not for what you think. Sure, he had 85 all purpose yards and got the majority of the carries out of the backfield (apart from Justin Thomas) last week, but we’re awarding him a helmet sticker for a different play: his game-changing block in the fourth quarter on VT linebacker Deon Clarke (#40). You were probably too busy watching Justin throw a 31-yard game-tying touchdown pass down the sideline to notice, but Laskey laid down a solid block on the blitzing Clarke that bought Justin the time he needed to make the throw – had Laskey missed the block, Justin would have been sacked. Check it out below.
Our final helmet sticker of the week goes to a group of players on special teams: junior A-back Broderick Snoddy, redshirt-senior B-back Matt Connors, and true freshmen Terrell Lewis and Shaun Kagawa, for their kick return midway through the 4th quarter. Snoddy had trouble fielding a short kickoff that bounced over his head, off his hand, and into the endzone, but had the awareness to change directions, get to the ball, and run it out, preventing a safety. What’s more, he got several key (and devastating) blocks across the side by Connors, Lewis, and Kagawa that sprung him free. With such great blocking, Snoddy was able to return the ball all the way out to the 35 for good field position. While the Jackets didn’t score on that drive, the fact that a safety and possible loss-of-possession were both averted was definitely a game-changer.
Who else deserves a Helmet Sticker for this week? Do you agree with our selections?