Pac-12 Conference Football Preview: Colorado Buffaloes

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Special Teams

Last season, punter Darragh O’Neil and and field goal kicker Will Oliver needed to be as productive as they could to make up for generally poor offense and defense. O’Neil had a total of 74 punts, 26 more than their opponents. Considering that Colorado’s offensive production was dismal, that isn’t surprising. If Colorado’s offense could produce more effectively, O’Neil would not have to work so hard to pin the opponent in their own 20-yard line.

The offense’s production also effects Oliver, who had 16 field goals on the season. If Colorado wants better efficiency from Oliver, they need to be more effective on the offensive side of the ball. Five of Oliver’s 16 field goals in 2011 were between the range of 40-49 yards. In order to increase their points per game numbers from 2011, Colorado needs to take some of O’Neil’s attempts away and create more attempts for Oliver.

The one replacement Colorado will need to make on special teams is that of Rodney Stewart. Stewart had the most kickoff return attempts and yards for Colorado in 2011. The Colorado post-spring depth chart says that kickoff returners and punt returners will not be determined until fall camps, but there are two players that could be fighting for the kickoff returns position and the punt returns position on special teams. Josh Ford and Justin Gorman could see themselves as the main players for returns or could be splitting time on kickoffs.

In the 2011 season, Gorman was second on the team in kickoff returns with 183 return yards on nine returns. Ford was third behind Gorman with 160 return yards and seven attempts. Both will most likely be on the kickoff return squad, but only one will get the punt return job. Right now, Gorman looks to have the lead over Ford going into Colorado’s fall camps.

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