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Previewing Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss: Special Teams


Player Ht/Wt Class Position Relevant Statistic
Jonathan LaCour 6'2"/208 So. P 21 punts; 763 yds; 363.33 avg
Donnie Carona 6'0"/215 Fr. K 90 kickoffs; 5,856 yds; 65.07 avg; 24 touchbacks (26.67%)
FG: 4/9 - 44.4%; EP: 33/37 - 89.2%
Matt Williams 5'8"/160 So. K FG: 2/3 - 66.7%; EP: 29/29 - 100%
Eric Morris 5'8"/177 Sr. PR 25 returns; 275 yds; 11.00 avg; 1 TD
Jamar Wall 5'10"/195 Jr. KR 17 returns; 422 yds; 24.82 avg
LaRon Moore 5'9"/186 So. KR 7 returns; 148 yds; 21.14 avg
Detron Lewis 6'0"/209 So. KR 4 returns; 99 yds; 24.75 avg
Rob Park 5'11"/194 Sr. P 52 punts; 2,024 yds; 38.92 avg
Justin Sparks 6'2"/187 Jr. K 72 kickoffs; 4,572 yds; 63.50 avg; 10 touchbacks (13.89%)
Joshua Shene 5'8"/170 Jr. K FG: 16/19 - 84.2%; EP: 46/46 - 100%
Marshay Green 5'9"/170 Jr. PR 31 returns; 302 yds; 9.74 avg; 1 TD
Mike Wallace 6'0"/180 Sr. KR 31 returns; 770 yds; 24.84 avg; 1 TD
Brandon Bolden 5'11"/220 Fr. KR 7 returns; 108 yds; 15.43 avg

Texas Tech

Matt Williams
makes it look easy.

What an incredible ride in the kicking game. I know that you probably don't need me to re-tell the story, but in summary, freshman Donnie Carona struggles, to put it mildly, to the point that senior kicker Cory Fowler kicks for a game. Matt Williams, a Texas Tech student is randomly picked out of maybe hundreds to kick for free rent for the Lynnwood apartments during the halftime of the Massachusetts game. Williams kicks a 35 yard field goal right down the middle with plenty of height and plenty of distance. After the kick, Mike Leach calls Williams over and asks him to come to practice the next day. After a couple of weeks of Williams catching up to the speed of things, he is Texas Tech's full time kicker for anything inside 30 yards.

Meanwhile, Donnie Carona struggled with height on his extra points, but the coaches always noted that he had one heck of a leg, and although he lost his spot as the full-time place kicker, he remained the kickoff specialist, putting them in the endzone over 26% of the time for a touchback.

Jonathan LaCour has suffered somewhat of a sophomore slump, although to his credit, he rarely gets the opportunity to get into any sort of groove. LaCour lost 4 yards a punt from last year to this year and although that's not awful, it's certainly a little disconcerting.

Texas Tech is blessed with a couple of excellent return guys. Receiver/punt returner Eric Morris is part of a unit that averages almost 11 yards a return (Morris is actually at 11.00 a return) which is good for 39th in the nation. Cornerback/kickoff returner Jamar Wall has handled a bulk of the kickoff returns for a majority of the season and this unit ranks 38th in the nation in returns. Wall took all 6 returns against Oklahoma, but receiver Detron Lewis handled 2 of the 4 returns against Baylor and perhaps there was some idea that there needed to be some sort of transition towards the end of the year.

As far as the coverage units are concerned, the Red Raiders limited opponents to 20.90 yards per return with no touchdowns and only 8.80 yards a return and 2 touchdowns (I still believe the Shipley return should have been called back, but I'm not bitter).


Joshua Shene is excitable.

The Ole Miss Rebels have pretty much stuck with the same 3 guys all season and they've all performed relatively well. Punter Rob Parks has handled every punt for the Rebels this year, a net average of 36.44 per punt, good for 34th in the nation.

Joshua Shene has handled every place kick and extra point this year, has made over 84% of his kicks and 100% of his extra points. There's been no drama from the kicking angle for Ole Miss.

Justin Sparks was responsible for every kickoff this year, averaging over 63 yards a kickoff, but only putting 13% in the endzone for touchbacks.

Marshay Green was responsible for almost all every punt return, which was good for 54th in the nation (9.41 per return) and receiver Mike Wallace and running back Brandon Bolden returned a majority of the kickoffs. Wallace (24.84) is much more explosive than Bolden (15.43) at returning kickoffs and Wallace has 1 touchdown for the year. As a unit, this group is good for 42nd in the nation at 21.93 yards per return.

The Ole Miss kickoff coverage unit allowed 19.91 yards per return, while the punt coverage unit only allowed 6.36 per return.


Picking special teams is always somewhat tough. Ole Miss has the edge in place kicker, punter, and punt return coverage, while Texas Tech has the advantage in kickoffs, kickoff returns, punt returns, and kickoff return coverage. Call me a homer, but I'll take Red Raiders and Matt Williams, possibly capping what has been an absolutely incredible storybook season for him.

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