In this installment of the state's best position groups by the Dallas Morning News bloggers, they rank the special teams. We will track these rankings and give you our thoughts on Tech's ranking in each group. We might throw in a few other thoughts that are non-Tech related.
Here are their rankings:
2) Texas A&M
4) TEXAS TECH
7) North Texas
10) Texas State
Here's what DMN blogger Tommy Magelssen had to say about Tech's special teams:
Not only does Texas Tech have to replace a senior kicker, it has to replace one of the best in school history. Ryan Bustin, the Red Raiders' all-time leader in made field goals, is gone after a stellar three-year campaign, and the possible replacements lack experience. A pair of redshirt freshmen (Clayton Hatfield and Michael Barnes) are the leading candidates, but punter Taylor Symmank, who ranked third in the Big 12 in punting last year, is also making a push to take over all the kicking duties for the Red Raiders. On the opposite side, Texas Tech will look to Jakeem Grant and Justin Stockton to improve the league's worst kick-return unit from a year ago, and Cameron Batson to better a 3.8-yards per attempt punt-return average.
I was surprised the see Tech had the worst kick return unit in the Big 12 last season. With Grant and Stockton returning kicks, there is always a chance of a return. I expect that we perform better in this area in 2015. I am not sure Batson is the answer at punt returner. He didn't show much last season and the stats bear that out. He was a freshman though, so let's see if he can improve. Symmank is mostly solid at punter. I would like to see one of the young kickers grab the kicking duties early in fall camp and get the position settled. While Bustin was fairly dependable, I will not miss seeing his sidewinder kicks. I have never seen a kicker with that type of rotation on their kicks without it being a miskick.
I feel like the DMN missed an opportunity to talk about the coverage units. They only mention the kicker/punter and returners, but as a unit Tech's punt coverage was very solid. They ranked #2 in the conference and #17 in the nation in net yards/punt. Our kick coverage team ranked middle of the pack both nationally (#60) and within the Big 12 (#6), so neither coverage unit was a weakness.
1) I feel like if we can make it a special teams battle with the Longhorns and Bears, we will give ourselves a chance. Meaning, we make it a field position and field goal type of game, not a shootout. Obviously that is much easier said than done. Briles' teams don't lend opponents to dictating that type of game.
2) I wish one of our redshirt freshman kickers could become a Jaden Oberkrom (TCU). He is the conference's best kicker and one of the best in the country. That is a huge weapon in the college game that not many teams have.
The next DMN position group ranking will be the coaches released on Friday. That will be their last installment of the state rankings.