With the start of the season right around the corner, I'm excited about a number of things heading into the season and I oftentimes think about what I'm most excited to see this year. These are the things I'm excited to see this year and absolutely will love to see what you're excited to see. The topics that I'll cover are the offense in general, the defense in general, the special teams, the newcomers and the veterans.
Competition at Kicker
Like a lot of you, I'm incredibly nervous about just handing the PAT job to Donnie Carona. Carona has a huge leg, but just can't get any height on the ball. When Carona was given the job in 2008 (this was before Matthew Williams stepped out of the stands) he made only 89.2%, which was 33 of 37 in etra points and was 4 of 9 in field goals. Williams stepped in and made 33 of 33. Carona didn't attempt an extra point or field goal in 2009. In 2010 he didn't attempt an extra point and made only 1 of 4 field goals. I mentioned this earlier in the spring that Tuberville said that Carona had the kicking job out of the spring, but did find where players like Bradley Hicks and Kramer Fyfe may get their opportunities if Carona can't get it done. And don't forget JUCO All-Conference kicker Ryan Bustin, from Kilgore J.C. He was pretty darned good for his JUCO team (12 of 15 in field goals and 31 of 31 in extra points). I don't think that Carona will just be given the job, he's got to earn it, but I hope that Bustin, Hicks and Fyfe are given legitimate opportunities.
Eric Stephens Continues the Assault on the Texas Tech Record Book
As a junior, RB/KR Eric Stephens enters the season owning so many kickoff return records for Texas Tech, it's a bit silly:
... owns Tech career kickoff return record (76)... owns Tech career kickoff return yardage record (1,894 - 76 returns)... owns Tech single-season kickoff return record (44)... owns Tech single-season kickoff return yardage record (1,071 - 44 returns)... owns Tech single-season kickoff return yards by a sophomore (1,071)... owns Tech single-game kickoff return yardage record by a sophomore (175, at New Mexico)... ranks fifth on Tech single-season all-purpose yardage list (1,951)...
More after the jump.
Stephens is also creeping into the Big 12 record book and as a junior, he's still got time to make a significant impact on the conference. The thing that I love about Stephens is his ability to actually break big returns and that's something that this team lacked until Stephens arrived on the scene. If Texas Tech could get something similar out of the punt return position, I'd be ecstatic.
A Seasoned Ryan Erxleben
P Ryan Erxleben was forced into action as a true freshman in 2009 when P Jonathan LaCour was suspended for the year and Erxleben had to play. He actually played pretty good, finishing with 40.84 yards/punt, which was good for 7th in the Big 12. In 2010, LaCour resumed his spot and he was the starter while Erxleben redshirted, however, LaCour was dead last in the Big 12. There is room for improvement and I'm hoping that with a year under his belt, plus a year redshirting, Erxleben returns as a guy that's going to take hold of the punter position. Of course, he really doesn't have much of a choice as he's the only punter on the roster, other than Carona.
Now it's your turn. Tell me what you're excited to see on special teams this year.