how did we get here?
may God have mercy on our souls.
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Just kidding. We all know the well-chronicled debacle that was last year’s special teams, but I think this year’s team will return to a level of production at least seen in the BB era (Before Butker). Before you all collectively rise up and internet torch me, just let me throw some numbers at you to explain what my thoughts and feelings are on this year’s show ponies: the kicker/punters.
Assuming you want the gooder news first, let’s talk about true sophomore Pressley Harvin III.
Last year, Harvin ranked 30th in yards per punt at 44.1 yards. This was good for 18th among punters to attempt more than 30 punts.
As evidenced below in the game breakdown, Harvin offered a comforting level of consistency to the game’s most important down. Regardless of conditions, Harvin was able to put forth a quality product on the field, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.
The only facet of his game that I see requiring improvement has nothing to do with him. It’s the rest of the punt team. Despite having such a great average that placed him in the Top 20 in the nation, Tech’s net punt average suffered, landing us at 35th in the country. With an average return of 4.4 yards per punt, there is a lot of room for improvement, especially considering Harvin had 15 of his 50 punts result fair catches on the season. Case and point:
The block in the back happens after the mental breakdown by the gunners, and had nothing to do with four missed tackles happening on what should have been a routine 53-yard punt with a return of less than five yards. Stuff like this happened all year, especially when we’re talking about the next group...
Final point: From Bill C’s 2018 profile of the yellow jackets, Harvin’s punting efficiency ranked 17th in the country. Our special teams unit as a whole? 103rd. For the value of our special-teams-mobile to be this low, it’s like we’ve got $10,000 worth of tires on a 1999 Toyota Sienna.
For all the bad we did last season in the kicking game, I’m going to attribute it all to the fact that I can guarantee you Shawn and Brenton didn’t do enough of whatever these things are.
In all seriousness, the kicking game was every bit as anemic as you would like to think that it was. Neither kicker were among the qualified kickers to even make the individual kicking statistics charting on ESPN.
We ranked 121st in field goals made with seven, while making seven of our 10 attempts on the season (good for t-123rd with Rutgers and Tulane). Extra Point percentage made? 89.5. B+ right? Wrong. Good for 122nd in the country. We missed four 20-yard, 1-point attempts on the season. Butker hit 90.5 PERCENT OF ALL OF HIS FIELD GOALS LAST YEAR IN THE NFL INCLUDING FOUR-OF-FIVE FROM BEYOND 50 YARDS.
I was quick to come to the defense of Davis after the Tennessee loss in my M?M?BP Week 1 column (returning this fall). But as the season wore on, I carried less and less sympathy for the kickers and Johnson’s ability to field somebody that could kick the ball more than 40 yards.
In the very recent history of Florida and Texas, both schools having a much bigger ego than Tech, have held OPEN tryouts for a kicker to the general student population. If nothing else, it will light a fire under somebody to get them to kick the ball further.
I’m not saying I was anything close to a world-beater when it came to kicking field goals, but I was at least able to kick it straight. For us to have spent this scholarship the day our No. 1 kicking recruit flipped to Bama seems to be a bit of a reach now having seen the tape on King. You can reach me @MagnaCarterLive on Twitter.
Now here’s where I add in some Mrs. Dash to make this dish taste somewhat palatable.
They can’t be worse. All offseason they have no doubt been beaten up by the coaching staff over their performance. (I will not talk about kickoffs in this article, I’d like to be able to sleep tonight). They will both be healthy as far as we know coming into the season, and with the time to reflect and hopefully grow stronger, hopefully this year’s kickers will have the collective wherewithal to rank higher 101st in Field Goal Efficiency (S&P+) and 125th in Kickoff Efficiency (S&P+).
Harvin - 46.5 ypp average on the season. 70% FC/I20 Ratio. 2nd team All-ACC.
King/Davis - 14/18 field goals (77 percent, one critical miss. just playing the odds. we’re overdue). 35 percent on touchbacks. 22 percent less hair-pulling moments incurred over 13 games, down from nine in the 2017 season.