First Week NCAA Special Teams Blues
By FirstDown PlayBook on Sep 3, 2017

A few days ago, some of the sportswriters were reporting about how deep the University of Alabama’s depth chart is. That’s because one of their Running Backs, Damien Harris, who gained  over 1000 yards last year, was the player who blocked the Florida State punt. It was sort of an amusing take on how special teams is perceived by those who do not play or coach the game. The premise was that Alabama is so deep they can risk getting a player of that caliber hurt on special teams.

For coaches and the right kind of players there is nothing strange at all about having one of your better players on one or two special teams units. In fact, it is normal if you want to be as good as Alabama is going to have to be to compete for a national championship again this year. If you look at that game, this play was as huge of a play as occurred all night and probably bigger than any play Harris made as running back.

It was a typical first weekend in college football with a lot of special teams mistakes that will certainly have the coaches pulling their hair out in video reviews across the country this this week. In the Maryland vs Texas game, both teams gave up blocked kicks for touchdowns and Maryland had a punt returned for a touchdown. Maryland head coach DJ Durkin is one of the best special teams minds in college football so it is definitely a hard job and the importance of special teams is a hard message to get across to your team if you don’t play some of your better players like Harris.

The good news is that coaches always say the most improvement a team makes is between week one and week two. The coaches now have some full speed video to teach off of and you can bet they will be. We drew up the Alabama punt block here for you. It’s a bit of a unique shield punt formation by FSU as there is only one protector on the line of scrimmage to the boundary. This allows Alabama to get three to the shield from the boundary alone.

The FSU Tackle to the field inside zone releases to the kick but does not get a hand on #34 Harris and he comes unabated to the block point. The blocked Florida State punt and a game changing play is the end result.


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