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ANGER SMASH - Cal Football's Special Teams in 2011

TwistNHook: Special Teams has been oddly inconsistent the last few years. While Bryan Anger has been exceptional at punting, we've given up way too many run backs and our place kicking has been.....frustrating. At times, special teams has been more of a liability than an asset. But hopefully that is all changed now. What can we expect from special teams in 2011?

Kodiak: We know Bryan Anger is a special talent at punter. Perhaps that's why we're disappointed when he'll occasionally shank one that falls well below his normal standards. I hope he stiffens up on the sideline from lack of use this year. But, when we do need him, I'd like to see more consistency and have him really reach his potential as a game-changing weapon of field position destruction.

There are reports that Tavecchio has improved his leg strength and consistency. But until we see that carry over into a meaningful game, I think we'll all wonder. He might wonder himself. He's a nice guy and a hard-worker, and I think we'd all love him to succeed. My gut tells me that if he can make a tough one early in the year, he'll get his confidence and be solid for us the rest of the way.

My biggest concern is in the coverage units. In theory, having another year of familiarity with Coach Genyk's schemes should help. The reports of Genyk's attention to detail and emphasis on the mental game are promising - but we just haven't seen the results yet. Bringing in back to back classes of high-level athletes should also start to pay off as our improved depth allows us to play better players on the coverage units.

What is still unknown is whether we're playing any starters on special teams, or whether it will be entirely backups. We also don't know how much practice time is available for special teams. With so much emphasis on breaking in a new quarterback and rehabilitating the offense, there might not be enough time left for the 3rd phase of the game. Last year, Coach Tedford made a point of saying that they were going to use the 2nd team defense to "service" the offense instead of using the scout team. If the 2nd team defense contained a lot of players on special teams, I could see that there might be issues with having enough time to practice coverage. It's unknown whether he's continuing with this policy or not.

I suppose, we cross our fingers and hope that Genyk Year Two results in cheers, not jeers.

HydroTech: I'm hoping for more consistency from Cal's kicking game -- both punting and field goals. In terms of punting, Anger is pretty good. But at times, he has some serious shank issues. I think a lot of Cal fans overlook this fact because all they seem to remember are the 60 yard punts, but I'm a little different and all I can seem to remember are the 20 yard shanks. And you know, I think that's what really separated past Cal punter greats like David Lonie etc. from Anger; they consistently boomed balls. It wasn't like 60% chance boomer, and 40% chance shank. It was like 96% boomer, 4% chance even bigger boomer. As for field goals... I guess I'd just like us to hit everything within 25 yardline (42 yard field goal kicks). It's a bit frustrating to lose a game because you miss a 20 yard chip shot, but then also hit a 52 yarder in a game when it doesn't really matter. I like Tavecchio, and I hope he improves, but I still get really nervous at the idea of him kicking. I wish it wasn't like that though...

Berkelium97: If Giorgio had nerves of steel, we would be set. He has shown an ability to hit field goals from 50+ yards, but those high-pressure, game-deciding field goals always seem to trip him up. I am still surprised we did not miss that last-minute field goal against ASU in '09.

I am more confident in his ability to force touchbacks because that is a lower pressure situation and he has steadily improved over the last few years.

It's funny how when he walked in in 2008 many fans thought he would just play a season or two until we found another reliable, consistent kicker. Three years later he's still kicking. It looks like finding a high-level D-1A kicker is much tougher than most of us realized...

NorCalNick: I agree with Kodiak in his concern over the coverage units. I don't have any concerns about Anger or our kick/punt returners, and I think Giorgio will be solid. But last year really wasn't much of an improvement on kick and punt return coverage. I do believe that Genyk will get the job done - he has an excellent track record and all of the changes he has made seem like the right moves. The only question is if those moves will lead to clear dividends on the field.

TwistNHook: But what about the long snapper????

OhioBear: Matt Rios has done a solid job as a long snapper. It seems he has been just as dependable as Nick Sundberg before him and L.P. Ladoceur before him. Don't know if he's the second coming of David Binn -- but who is?!?!?

NorCalNick: Well, we are long-snapper U, after all.

OhioBear: Rios went to the same high school (North Canyon HS in Phoenix) as Nick Sundberg. That place must be Long Snapper H.S.