There are not many holes to fill or questions heading into the spring with this specific unit. Jay Boulware comes to Norman as the new special teams coach but inherits a ton of talent and experience while his specific duties have yet to be defined.
Departures: Tress Way, Patrick O' Hara, Justin Brown
Additions: Jed Barnett
|K||18 Michael Hunnicutt||Jr.||6-1||169|
|47 Eric Hosek||R-So.||5-10||153|
|P||44 Jed Barnett||Jr.||6-2||215|
|37 Dylan Seibert||R-So.||6-3||220|
|KO||18 Michael Hunnicutt*||Jr.||6-1||169|
|KR||22 Roy Finch||Sr.||5-7||167|
|24 Brennan Clay||Sr.||5-11||297|
|PR||18 Jalen Saunders||Sr.||5-9||160|
|3 Sterling Shepard||So.||5-10||188|
Storyline: The special teams will be looking a new coach as Jay Boulware has been imported to Norman. Oklahoma has yet to define the specific duties that Boulware will play in coaching special teams though. Without a doubt, this is very talented unit that also benefits from experience.
The biggest hit to this unit is undoubtedly punter Tress Way. Not many people get excited about a punter but it will be a tough transition as he played all four years of his career as a Sooner. Due to this fact, there was no one who played behind him making JUCO Transfer, Jed Barnett the most experience punter on the roster.
In the return game, the Oklahoma Sooners were looking for an electric play maker. Due to a few last minute transfers, the Sooners found their man in an experienced Justin Brown by way of Penn St. While Brown initially wowed fans with his unique skill set while not a single motion was wasted in the return game, the reigns were later handed off to Jalen Saunders who proved his worth.
In a single moment, Saunders all but solidified himself as the man for the 2013 season.
Kickoff returns play a host to the Roy Finch show. Touted as an irreplaceable talent, Finch has had some trouble finding his way onto the field as a running back. This of course has spawned many theories and rumors as to why, but this is neither the place nor time to discuss such matters. With his elusiveness and speed, Finch found a home and displayed his talent as he took the second half kickoff against Kansas and ran it back for a touchdown pinning him as a starter.
Opposite him has been a solid Brennan Clay. Up until this point, Clay has not taken part in the touchdown party that the special teams threw last season although he returned 20 kicks for 507 yards at a clip of 25.35 per attempt. If consistency is what you are after, there is not a better example than Clay.
This of course brings us to the the kickers. After taking over in the third game of the 2011 season, Michael Hunnicutt will be entering his junior season with the starting position still on lock down as place kicker. Again, at another unheralded position, Hunnicutt is on pace to become the most prolific kicker since Garrett Hartley.
Battle To Watch: As mentioned above, Jed Barnett comes in with the most experience. Barnett averaged 41.3 yards per punt on 65 punt attempts, with just four touchbacks and 15 punts downed inside the 20. However, don't expect him to simply be handed the job.
Dylan Seibert is a redshirt sophomore that has a year in the system. He will have the benefit of time on his side that helps to develop chemistry with the long snapper, all things that Barnett will not have heading into this battle. As it currently stands, I see it coming down to these two as we will get a great look at both during spring practices.
Overview: The Special Teams as a unit have the luxury of returning a handful of electric speedsters. Roy Finch continues to be a shifty player with the ability and speed to take a kickoff to the house. The same goes for Jalen Saunders on punt returns.
If I were to tab a punter as the go to guy, it would certainly be Barnett. It's not often that a JUCO transfer is brought in simply to ride the pine. He has great size and flexibility that should put him a head above the rest. Given the history of this unit, they should be just fine with very little questions heading into and coming out of the spring.