In the days leading up to each SU football game, The Juice Online will address questions about the team in “Kickoff Countdown.” Today’s question: Was Syracuse’s special teams brilliant performance against UConn an aberration?
Syracuse’s special teams had struggled all season heading into Friday’s game against UConn.
Whether it was Steve Rene’s indecisiveness with calling fair catches, Ross Krautman’s inconsistency on his kicks or the offensive line allowing a touchdown on a blocked field goal against Rutgers, there weren’t many positive things to talk about.
That is, until Friday.
Special teams excelled in a 40-10 win over UConn. Ritchy Desir took over return duties for Rene and had a breakout 33 yard return.
Krautman, named Big East Special Teams player of the week, was 4 for 4 on field goals and PATs for 16 points after missing five field goals this season.
“It felt good just to focus on the next kick, no matter how far it is out and no matter how many attempts I got,” Krautman said. “Forget about the losses in the past and just move on.”
On the rare occasions Syracuse had to punt, punter Jonathan Fisher pinned the Huskies inside the 20 twice. On top of that, Connecticut never had a decent return of its own.
“I think our kickoff coverage unit has probably been, statistically, the best unit that we have had,” Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said. “I felt good about that and we punted well.”
The question now becomes if the special teams unit can keep it up.
The major adjustment has been to insert Desir, who seemed to know when to fair catch and when to attempt a return. As for Krautman, SU is banking on a specular game snowballing into the rest of the season.
“We are working forward in the right direction,” Marrone said. “We still have a lot of work that we have to get done.”Wesley Cheng