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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Special teams looking to be a game changer in '09

By Tim Olsen

April 22, 2009 | Field goals, returns and blocked kicks. The special teams units my not get the most attention, but more often than not one of those units can end up deciding a game.

Like most of the groups in the Aggie football program, the special teams unit has made a lot of changes this season changes the players and coaches hope will increase the groups effectivness.

"For punt, which is the most important special teams, they were traditional last year and this next year we're going to be doing something different," said coach Ilsaia Tuiaki. "It will allow us to put our athletes on the field speed kills, and that's what we want to do is kill people with speed."

Punter/kicker Peter Caldwell who's been out all spring after having knee surgery, said this new formation will help the punt team a lot.

"When you have the shield you know the three fat guys in front of you that are going to close off and block for you," he said. "It really allows everybody else, the skill players up on the line to get releases."

Along with the punt team, other units in the kicking game have been undergoing changes.

"As far as kicking goes, last spring I only kicked two live reps, and this spring I can't even tell you how many reps I did," Ulinski said. "We've done live snaps now every single practice this spring, so I think that's going to be a huge, huge help."

Both Ulinski and Caldwell arrived on campus at the same time, and the two have been pushing each other at the kicking position ever since. Ulinski has a bigger leg and has established himself as the kickoff specialist as well as the Aggies deep threat (he connected on a 56-yarder last season), while Caldwell has been a little more accurate and had done the brunt of USU's field goal duties as well as punting.

"It is competitive as it should be, but off the field we're friends," Caldwell said. "It's nice having someone there to push you, but in the same sense, you miss a field goal and Chris is the first one over there saying look, it's okay we'll just get the next one. It works both ways with us."

Caldwell also said he and Ulinski differ in kicking styles, so it's impossible to compare the two but their different abilities complement the team.

Tuiaki, who also works with the kickoff team, is also excited about the new schemes implemented there.

"The kickoff team we have is going to be really good, I don't want to get too much into the scheming of it, but the bottom line is we've got to have guys that can run and guys that can tackles, and we have that," he said.

In the return game it looks like senior cornerback Kejon Murphy will be leading the way on both punt and kickoff returns. Speedy, but undersized tailback Josh Flores could see time also, along with multiple other speedsters vying for the job.

Regardless of who lands what job by the time the season rolls around, the new coaching staff has the Aggies excited for the upcoming year.

"Coaches have done an awesome job just getting the players morale up," Ulinski said. "You can just tell the intensity for every single practice, everyone's out there trying to get better every day."

That intensity is especially prevalent and important in the special teams groups where players who often don't see much playing time can have such a big impact on the game.

"Special teams is a huge part of the game and coaches realize that and they're putting a lot of pressure on us," Caldwell said. "All in all it's an awesome change for everybody."


Copyright 1997-2009 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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