Will the Special Teams Be Special Again for the 2012 Arkansas Razorbacks?
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In 2011, the spectacular Joe Adams punt return against Tennessee, where Adams weaved through the entire Volunteer team, was replayed again and again on Sportscenter. Adams returned two more punts for TDs against Missouri State as well as his final one in the Cotton Bowl against Kansas State. But he was not the only person who made the special teams an important part of last year's successful season.
Dylan Breeding will be back after out-punting Arkansas' opponents by an average of five yards. Breeding boomed punts on an average of 45.3 yards per kick with three touchbacks, pinning opponents deep in their own territory. Better yet, not one of his kicks were blocked.
Kicker Zach Hocker is returning as well and will anchor a field-goal team that is expected to be even better than last season. Hocker hit on 77.8 percent of his field goals, going 5-of-8 from 40 yards or better and 16-of-19 from within 40 yards. He was money when it counted and never seems to get rattled when the game is on the line.
Dennis Johnson and Marquel Wade both scored on kick returns last year averaging over 25 yards a return. They will be featured again in 2012 as new special teams coordinator Steve Caldwell tries to duplicate the success that John L. Williams brought to the Hogs. Caldwell must find a threat at punt returner since the departure of Joe Adams to the NFL. Keonta Minor was given some shots at kick returner last year and may get a crack at the punt return team. The aforementioned Wade, who shared time with Adams in 2011, could also get the nod.
The only opponents to score against Arkansas on punt returns were the only two teams to beat the Hogs, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers. The Arkansas kick coverage unit did not give up a touchdown all season. If the special teams can again be special in 2012 the Razorbacks have a good chance to run the table, getting their two biggest division rivals at home this year. Only time will tell if the Hogs can put all three phases of the game together consistently to dominate the SEC.
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