April 27, 2008
Spring review: Special teams
BamaOnLine.com completes its review of Alabama's spring football practice with a look at the special teams.
|K Leigh Tiffin||Jr.||6-1, 200||25 of 34 on FGs, perfect on PATs (36 of 36)|
|P P.J. Fitzgerald||Jr.||5-11, 194||38.7 avg., 20 of 64 downed inside 20|
|KOR Javier Arenas||Jr.||5-9, 197||24.3 yd. avg, long of 62 vs. Tennessee|
|PR Javier Arenas||Jr.||5-9, 197||15.4 yd. avg., long of 69|
|K Corey Smith||Fr.||6-0, 195||High school|
|P Heath Thomas||Jr.||6-3, 213||Did not punt|
|KR Jonathan Lowe||Sr.||5-7, 185||14 KO returns for 19.8 yd. avg.|
|PR Jonathan Lowe||Sr.||5-7, 185||4 returns, 12.8 avg. while Arenas was hurt|
Good to see: Tiffin appeared to pick up where he left off last season, which is to say the junior-to-be steadily improves. By UA-kept statistics, Tiffin converted 5 of 7 field-goal tries over three spring scrimmages, including a 51-yarder. His 44-yarder on A-Day had about 10 yards of distance to spare.
Although the return game doesn't include live hitting in scrimmage work, it was obvious that the burst Arenas lost to a high ankle sprain late last season has completely returned.
Need to see more of: UA stats showed 15 Fitzgerald punts over three scrimmages for a 43.2-yard average, significantly better than his in-season track record. Still, the occasional shank is something he'll need to eliminate in order to consistently help an inexperienced defense with field position. Thomas' sub-40 yd. averages in three consecutive scrimmages did little to push the veteran.
Assumptions that Smith would compete with Fitzgerald in the spring were apparently pre-mature. The early-enrolling freshman kicked field goals with Tiffin (3 of 5) and, according to statistics, never punted once in a scrimmage.
Overall: All the things that made up Alabama's special teams a year ago - for better or worse - return intact. An explosive return game is the obvious positive, along with Tiffin's field-goal reliability, but a distance problem on both punts and kickoffs prevents special teams from being an across-the-board strength.
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