Spring Practice Wish List: Special Teams


Sept 22, 2012; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs kicker Devon Bell (40) kicks a field goal during the game at Davis Wade Stadium. The Mississippi State Bulldogs won Jaguars 30-10. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Spring Practice starts March 18. The Bulldogs will start their preparation for the 2014 football season and it ends on April 12 with the Spring game, the marquee event of Super Bulldog Weekend. Mississippi State is poised to have one of their best seasons in 2014, but there are a number of things that need to be developed to get the most out of this team as possible. Today we look at Special Teams.

There is probably no bigger part of our team that could stand to see the most improvement than in Special Teams. The part that stood out the most was the missed field goals, but there were a number of other things that made Mississippi State fans cringe. Here is my wish list for Special Teams.

Find a Field Goal Kicker: I have always been under the opinion that kickers should make 95% of their field goals that are less than 30 yards, 75% of the field goals between 30 and 40 yards, 65% of their field goals between 40 and 45 yards. Anything over 45 is icing on the cake. I don’t think that is asking too much. I don’t foresee us getting any kickers besides the one we signed in Logan Cooke. I’ve also read that he is coming in to be a punter, but I’m not sure about that. That leaves us with Sobiesk and Bell. One of them has to reliably put points on the board. When we miss chip shot field goals like we did against Alabama, we are putting that much more pressure on our offense to score a TD every time down to win ball games.

Coach ’em up: Dan Mullen had been listed as the Special Teams coach since his arrival, but Special Teams was more often than not organized and run by Graduate Assistants. Those days appear to be gone now. Hevesy and Gonzales are now listed as Co-Offensive Coordinators, but Mullen is going to be the one calling the shots on offense. Greg Knox is now in charge of Running backs and Special Teams. Will it make a difference? I don’t know, but I don’t see it being any worse. The one thing that bothered me more than the Field Goal kicking was the poor decisions that Holloway and Lewis often made when fielding punts and kicks. We were lucky to win the Egg Bowl be cause Jameon Lewis’ bad decision to try to field a punt over his head right be fore the half cost us a TD. That play almost gave the game away.

Get Bell a Sports Psychologist: I am actually not joking here. Bell supposedly wants to punt, and he certainly has the leg for it. Except for the dropped snap against South Carolina, he actually did a good job as punter. But if Sobiesk can’t get the job done as field goal kicker, we will have to go back to Bell. Leg strength isn’t the concern, the problem seems to be mental. If he could get any issues he has worked out, Bell could be a valuable weapon on special teams.

This is the group that I will be most interested in seeing how they develop this Spring. We need solid Special Teams play if we are going to fulfill the potential of this team in 2014.