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San Jose State's Special Teams Key to Success in 2014

Last year's place kicking was outstanding what with Austin Lopez handling the kicking chores. Punting was pretty fair also with Harrison Waid (graduated). The return team was not that good and that's where improvement is expected. This is another of creeper86's great posts.

Last year's punter Harrison Waid
Last year's punter Harrison Waid
Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Special teams will lose one important player, but will gain an injury prone one who hopefully stays healthy the entire year..... if he does, look for the overall STs to improve, quite possibly dramatically, as this player is a game changer on the 2nd most important special teams unit.....

The first most important is your FG unit and of course, Kicker....junior Austin Lopez is most likely continuing to work on and improve his leg strength -he'll get a shot to KO..... but what we do know is he'll kick very accurately for us; he's nails inside 50 and may go down as the best kicker in Spartan history... this guy has done a tremendous job for two years, and its great to get him for another two.... he's one of the best in the nation and will put up a ton of points for us... he's obviously one of our most valuable players on the team.

And let's not forget about returning and unsung LS, Ryan DiSalvo (junior). What a great find and worthy scholarship holder..... does anybody remember a bad snap in two years? I don't, and that's when you know you have a great one on your kick and punt teams.... a thankless position, but one we know is manned by a guy good enough to get into an NFL camp in a few years just based on his special skill...... back up WR Daniel Bradbury (senior) returns to hold; he, DiSalvo and Lopez have been together for two years and have been near perfection; look for this to continue.

Punter is where we lose our four year guy in Waid.... a guy who lost his head at times and caused some penalties, but was also a tenacious leader (as much as punters can lead and be tenacious) who had a very good career.... I think we can find a punter (freshman Zach Steinberg looks to be the front runner) with a more consistent leg, but Waid had a strong one and it is yet to be seen how our new punter will do come game time......

As noted above, star returner, Tyler Ervin (junior), is back and hopefully healthy. Should give us a huge lift in our return game.... he's returned three kicks for TDs in about a year's worth of total work (injuries have cut his game time down considerably).  Should he stay healthy, who knows, maybe he'll double that TD number when season's done.  He's a special returner, and I look for both he and Thomas Tucker (sophomore) to really add a punch to the kick return team.  I believe he will also be returning punts, or at least I hope he is, as he is not entering camp as our starting RB, which is a demanding position and  therefore sometimes difficult to take both these special teams positions on. Cleveland Wallace (sophomore), if eligible, could help out on these teams also, and Forrest Hightower (senior) is good in the open field.

Of course you need some blocking on these teams; some coverage ability on the kick and punt teams.... eager, young, talent mixed with some vets should improve this team... the young talent often looks to make a name for themselves through their ST's work.... think Ogburn a few years back, we could use guys like that; and as the overall talent gets better, so do these units. But having a kid who can take it the distance each time due to his special ability to hit holes at full speed makes the jobs of these players easier as they just have to put a body on somebody and give a small crease.

Overall, I will absolutely trade a proven punter for a proven, breakaway threat on the kick return teams...scoring points on special teams, outside of the FG unit, is huge and often the difference in wins and losses....we didn't have anything like that last year; this year it's in place.... and. with one of the best FG units piling up points, and SJS recent influx of young and eager talent flying around on special teams across the board, introducing a new punter isn't nearly as much of a concern, as the overall ST's play should be considerably better everywhere else.