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
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."