This is my last position preview for the Missouri Tigers football team.
Special teams has been up-and-down in Columbia in recent years, and sadly, this year should be no different. It will definitely be a wild ride.
Incumbent senior Jeff Wolfert is a straight beast in the kicking game. He is an all Big-12 member, and has made 90 straight kicks (both field goals and PATs) in Big-12 play going into this season. There is no reason to expect him to be any worse this year, and maybe he'll even take a step forward. It seems like he takes a while to get heated up during the season, so maybe he'll be money from the jump for his senior campaign.
Punter is where the "downs" part of my introduction comes in. Adam Crossett was one of the most hated players I can remember at Missouri. He wasn't the best punter, and I will always remember him running backwards because of a botched snap or blocked punt, but he might actually be better then who Mizzou has this season.
Jake Harry is the only scholarship punter on the roster, and he is basically getting the job by default. During spring practices he was very inconsistent, booming 60-yarders one minute then shanking a 20-yarder the next. If Missouri wants to truly be an elite team, they'll need him to be at least average. Huge momentum swings can occur because of field position.
There's this one guy, Jeremy Maclin, that returns punts and kicks at Mizzou. "The County Kid" will be back, and explosive as ever, but Pinkel might want to soften his load a tad, and allow others to return kicks. As long as Devion Moore or Jared Perry, two of the possible subs for Maclin, can catch the ball and get decent yards, I won't mind.
This area of the team worries me. It contains some of our most reliable talent in Maclin and Wolfert, but also has a gaping hole at punter. Also, I really don't want to see Maclin overworked, but I want to see another Marcus Woods (stupid fair catches, fumbles on returns) even less. Hopefully Pinkel will be able to gauge that situation accurately and carefully.
Watch out for my next article, in which I will break down Missouri's whole schedule, and give my predictions for each game! It will be a lot of work, so be sure to track me down and give me some feedback and love.