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The Difference Between 5-7 & 9-4 Part 3 - Special Teams

Big Red NetworkSenior Writer INovember 9, 2016

Assessing improvements or regressions in special teams play on a yearly basis is a difficult task, perhaps raising more questions than it answers.

Are the differences from one season to the next the result of a serious sea change in philosophy or just your average statistical variance? Do the statistics that fall under the "special teams" category even adequately measure a team's successes or failures in the hidden third or are they more representative of individual performances? (e.g. Is a blocked FG by Zach Potter the result of excellent team execution or is his 6'7" frame behind it all?) Do we even notice special teams beyond the extremes of a horrible play (blocked punt) or a great play (taking a kickoff to the house)?

There's a lot of gray area here. It's easy to remember DeJuan Groce because he was a home run hitter as a punt returner (4 TDs in 2002). It's easy to remember Baron Miles because he was a slugger on 4th downs (4 blocked punts in 1994, 7 for his career). Is that how we judge special teams? Probably, but the good news is this: Nebraska got some home runs out of their special teams unit this year.

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