Spring Practice Primer: Special teams

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Commentary from special teams coordinator John Baxter

spphouston.JPGMoving on: K Jordan Congdon, P Billy O'Malley

Fighting on: K Jake Harfman, K Joe Houston, SNP Chris Pousson, P Boomer Roepke, SNP Cooper Stephenson

Spring expectations for the vacant kicker position, with Joe Houston and Jake Harfman set to fight for it...
"I won't know anything about them until I start working them. I have to see them kick balls. Right now, they're literally names on a piece of paper. They don't compete against each other -- they compete against themselves. Kicking is like a track and field competition -- the guy who throws the javelin the farthest wins the gold medal. It's the most objective decision in football because the numbers don't lie. I've never let petty jealousies or guys not talking to each other because they're competing for a job creep into things. If it's close, then it's when you're experience comes in. Then you have to make a decision based on feel, experience or whatever.

How will the open holder role be filled?
"I start with the quarterbacks and the punters. The reason is: holding isn't about having good hands, it's about having a good feel for the ball and being able to manipulate it. Quarterbacks and punters are the only two guys on the team who manipulate the ball. The other guys just catch it and tuck it away. And secondly you want to have someone who can deal it if you want to do something besides kick. And thirdly, a position player could get tweaked and get knocked out, but you want someone who's going to be the battery mate for the kicker -- like a pitcher and catcher in baseball. I tell the kickers that they're in charge of the holders, because the numbers go next to their names. So if they want a good holder, they need to work together. I'll help the guy, but I'm not in charge of the synergy."

Spring expectations for the entire special teams unit...
"I want to teach these guys the individual techniques and fundamentals of playing together on one field. There's not going to be one kid by the end of this spring who knows what our punt coverage is, and it doesn't matter to me. I'm going to spend all my time teaching them how to get him, so when we say it in the fall, it triggers a picture."

Most excited about...
"I've never had the ability to focus on just special teams, I've always had a position to coach as well. So I kind of feel like a man without a country a little. But I know that I don't underestimate the impact I can have. Getting a chance to start something brand new again is really exciting for me."

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