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Arkansas Football 2018 Preview: Special Teams

Can Special Teams be special this year?

NCAA Football: Missouri at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Starters

  • K - Connor Limpert (Jr, 6’1” 175 lbs.)
  • P - Blake Johnson (Jr, 6’1” 182 lbs.)
  • LS - Jordan Silver (rFr, 6’1” 217 lbs.)
  • KR - De’Vion Warren (So, 5’10”, 180 lbs.)
  • PR - Jared Cornelius (Sr, 5’11” 203 lbs.)

Who Else

  • K - Christopher Lopez (Fr, 5’10”, 240 lbs.)
  • P - Reid Bauer (Fr, 5’11”, 188 lbs.)
  • P - Chad Stephens (So. 5’11” 188 lbs.)
  • LS - George Madden (Jr, 6’1” 212 lbs.)

One Big Question: Will Special Teams stop us from cringing?

Outside of punt returns, Arkansas’ special teams was a mess in 2017. So with most of the pieces returning, how much hope for improvement is there? After Cole Hedlund’s disaster against TCU, he was replaced by Connor Limpert who was serviceable. He went 8-9 from field goals and 33-34 on extra points. When it comes to distance he hit from 48, 46, and 42 yard and missed one from 44. Not a horrible percentage but his performance in the spring game didn’t exactly fill one with confidence. He’s not going to win the Lou Groza but the hope is to keep those percentages and be a bit more consistent from 40+.

Punting was one of the worst parts of the team in 2017, and that’s saying something. Going by S&P+’s Punt Success Rate, they were successful under 50% of the time, which ranked 108th in FBS. Averaging 38 yards per punt just isn’t going to be good enough for a team that needs to win the field position battle.

Kickoff success rate ranked 57th in FBS, which is average and can hopefully climb in the top 50 this year. Kickoff returns was the positive aspect of Arkansas’ special teams. De’Vion Warren has proven him to be an excellent return man, averaging over 26 yards per return and taking one for a touchdown in 2017. Having Jared Cornelius back for punt returns should help there as well.