This is the first in a series looking at each of the three phases of the game over the course of the season. We’ll examine what went right, what went wrong, and what we’ll hope to see next year.
The special teams started out as a bright spot, though their intensity diminished as the season went on.
Austin Crimmins had a pretty solid season all things considered. While there were some missed field goals in some of the later games, he was rather accurate and, of course, set the record for
His kickoffs were generally pretty powerful, some resulting in touchbacks. Not a lot else to say about that; there were few issues here.
Aaron Fleck began the year as one of the most reliable punters in the game. He seemed to be the master of the coffin corner punt and really played a role in the field position battle. He became less consistent as the season went on, but his ability to pin a team down didn’t go away; we saw it time and time again.
A little more accuracy from both would be the best for next year. If Fleck can coffin another few punts, it could be a big difference. And, of course, a few more points on the board by way of Crimmins’s toe wouldn’t be a bad thing either!
One can’t mention the punting game without also giving props to the coverage unit. They were just as instrumental in getting to those nice punts quickly and downing them. The longest punt return allowed by this unit was 23 yards, and they didn’t give up a touchdown on either punts or kickoffs. Hats off to these guys.
If there was a phase of special teams that was consistently good, it was the kick returning. Of course one of the stand-out plays was Devin Rahming’s long punt return during the Wagner game – and again, give a lot of credit to the coverage guys for opening up some pathways for him to run through. Rahming had another notable return in the CCSU game, which took place after a Blue Devils touchdown.
Jason Douglas didn’t have the same sort of impact returns as Devin did, but that doesn’t mean he was ineffective. Douglas did a fine job with the balls that he fielded; he just didn’t happen to have the big plays to pump his numbers a little.
Occasionally, the decision was made to try to field a bad ball. This generally didn’t bite the Dukes too badly, but hopefully a little better judgement is on its way for the future. I’ll be curious to see how Rahming figures into the return game, as he’ll undoubtedly play a sizable role as a wide receiver next year.
Next up: The Defense