Here's what we know for sure about Oklahoma's special teams heading into 2011. Ryan Broyles gets to return punts. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
There really isn't much to report about Oklahoma's special teams in terms of kickoff coverage and in the return game. Ryan Broyles fielded punt after punt in last Saturday's spring game but the reality was we saw one fair catch after another because no one (players, fans & coaches) want to see a kid get hurt running a kick back in a spring football game. Because of this we don't get an accurate view of what special teams are going to be like this fall. We do however get a good look at punting and place kicking and by all accounts we might need to be prepared for some drama this season.
On kickoff returns the Sooners have a plethora of options as well. Trey Franks has blazing speed, Roy Finch is shifty and Ryan Broyles is...well...Ryan Broyles. I would suspect this to be an area where they experiment with personnel throughout the season. Ball security is a must to Bob Stoops so before anyone steps on the field to run back a kickoff he is going to have to prove that he can hang on to the football.
Coming into the spring we had pegged the place kicking battle to come down between Jimmy Stevens and Patrick O'Hara even though there were other options available on the roster. However, one of those extra options firmly entrenched himself in the mix of kickers vying for time on the field. Michael Hunnicut connected on two field goals of 40 and 36 yards. Jimmy Stevens was also 2-for-2 but his were from 28 and 25 yards out. O'Hara missed his only field goal attempt but was a game long 49-yard attempt.
You would have to think that the Sooners enter fall camp with at least three kickers in competition but don't rule the possibility of Stoops using two in 2011. I could very easily see Stevens kicking extra points and field goals inside 30-yards and the O'Hara or Hunnicut being the long distance kickers.