Serna looked even stronger in spring camp as he worked on his 40 yards out range. He should once again be at the top of the conference in field goal percentage. Paulescu was absolutely murdering the ball in April and placing it wherever he wanted. He helped immensely with field position in 2004 and will be an even bigger part this year.
The punt and kickoff coverage's will be solid as sophomore linebackers Andy Darkins, Derrick Doggett, and Alan Darlin anchor the units with their solid and smart play in the middle. Each has the ability to deliver a punishing hit causing a fumble and/or helping swing the momentum to OSU's side. The lanky Doggett got his hands on a few punts last year and is sure to get his hands on a few more in 2005.
The return men are set with the explosive and young duo of Sammie Stroughter and Lamar Herron. Each showed the ability to make people miss and that they have the speed and smarts to take one in for six. The snapping will be better this year with the arrival of Joel Cohen who works tirelessly at his craft. The team also has several capable backups in Josh Linehan, Trent Bray and Jeremy Weldon.
Bottom line, the special teams will be a positive force in most games helping lead the team to victory. I also t helps that the players have bought into Read's system and have really commit themselves to learning the craft of blocking, running through lanes and tracking down the ball. The players and staff pride themselves on their special teams play and their hard work will come to fruition this season.
2004 Special Teams Numbers
- Second in field goal percentage .772
- Third in the Pac-10 in punt average 38.9
- Sam Paulescu 24 kicks downed inside the twenty, honorable mention All-Pac-10
- Alexis Serna, a Pac-10 best 85% (17-20) field goal percentage, second team
- Sammie Stroughter, fifth in the conference with a 7.0 punt return average