Miami Football: What You Need to Know About Hurricanes' Special Teams in 2012
With the 2012 college season looming around the corner, the Miami Hurricanes have many questions facing them as they prepare to try to capture their first ACC divisional and conference title. Who's going to replace the lost starters on offense and defense?
How hard is the NCAA's hammer going to come down on the program that hails from Coral Gables, FL? Is Al Golden going to stay, or is he going to go?
Miami fans have had a tough year-and-a-half since the Nevin Shapiro scandal broke from a Yahoo! Sports report, and everyone (including Coach Golden) is getting tired of answering the same questions everyday.
The Hurricanes' special teams, led by K Jake Wieclaw, were okay last season, but with the loss of Travis Benjamin as the primary returner, there is a little uncertainty with this unit.
Here are five things that you need to know regarding the 'Canes special teams in 2012.
1. Jake Wieclaw Will Be a Solid Kicker
Jake Wieclaw has been a solid kicker for Miami after following in the footsteps of Jon Peattie. Wieclaw has a coolness under pressure that you love in a kicker, as last season he made 11 of 14 attempted field goals.
The senior kicker will go into the season looking to establish himself as the ACC's best kicker, as well as one of the top kickers in the country to possibly make himself ready for the NFL Draft.
The only knock against Wieclaw is that he has no attempts from 50 yards out or beyond, and his career long is only 49 yards. If he is going to go into the NFL, he will have to be able to improve his range in order to make an NFL team.
2. Phillip Dorsett Will Return Kicks and Punts
One of the fastest players on the team, Phillip Dorsett, may be the one that takes over for the departed Travis Benjamin as the primary kick returner. He is one of the fastest players on the team, as he ran a 4.42 40-yard dash when he came out of St.Aquinas High School in 2010.
A dynamic return game is a huge key in a successful program, and he has some big shoes to fill as he follows in the footsteps of Devin Hester.
As is often said, "speed kills."
Dorsett may be fun to watch this season.
3. Dalton Botts Will Be the ACC's Best Punter
The only Hurricanes player to be named to the preseason All-ACC team, Dalton Botts is a weapon for Miami. The senior has a career average of 42.7 yards with a long of 67.
In a highly contested game, a solid punter can flip field position and make it harder for offenses to be able to drive the field.
Botts will be counted on to make the most of his punts in order to pin the opposition deep in their own territory to enable the defense to make some plays.
4. Miami Will Lead the ACC in Field Goal Percentage
Miami has always been a team that has had a solid kicking game, as well as a dynamic return game. This season, the Hurricanes will rely on some new faces on special teams as well as some current ones.
Jake Wieclaw and Phillip Dorsett will often be counted on to make a difference on special teams.
A strong punting and kicking game will flip the field position and make it easier for the defense to be able to pin its ears back and attack offenses when they are backed up deep in their own territory.
Miami's defense has to be able to capitalize on the opportunities that the special teams unit provide.
5. A Question Mark or a Strength? You Decide
The special teams unit is often called on to make the difference in a hotly contested game. A blocked punt and a missed field goal are often plays that decide games (Just Ask Florida State.)
Miami has some questions going into the 2012 season, and special teams is one. Travis Benjamin has gone to the NFL, and his speed will be missed.
Questions on offense will play a huge part as to how effective the Hurricanes' special teams will be. It has the potential to be a strong group, and it also has the potential to make Al Golden lose sleep at night.
Only time will tell.