Special Teams Coach, Jeff Genyk, came into his first season at Cal after the firing of Pete Alamar (who is now the special teams coach at Fresno State). Our overall performance was just…average. Unfortunately, two of our worst moments on special teams came against Oregon where Cliff Harris completed a 64 yard punt return for a touchdown and Georgio Tavecchio missed a field goal that would have put us in the lead.
Our kickoff and punt coverage was just average last season as we allowed 22.5 yards per game on kickoff coverage and 12.9 yards per game on punt coverage. Coach Genyk implemented a new formation on punt coverage called the “shield of death” where each player on our line is separated by about 2 yards unlike the conventional formation where players line up shoulder to shoulder. Honestly, this formation scares the s*** out of me (even though we only had 1 blocked punt last season). It is a huge risk for us especially if we are deep in our own side and the other team goes for the punt block. However, like we saw last season, we chose to go with the rugby kick, which decreases the chance of a blocked punt, but decreases Anger’s stats and the fans don’t get to see Anger’s incredible bombers. Hopefully, our team will have a greater understanding of this punt formation going into next season.
Giorgio had tremendously increased his kickoff range last season, kicking the ball to the opponent’s 5 yard line almost every time. However, he will need more consistency with his field goal kicking technique and range (though he did make a 53 yard FG against Washington last season).
Going into next season, both Bryan Anger and Giorgio Tavecchio will go into their last season hoping to make it their best season. Cal has a great number of young athletic players that will be able to fill in many positions that have been left open by last season’s seniors. There will be a number of new faces on the starting line-up for all special team squads, but a knowledgeable and veteran core will help guide our special teams during Coach Genyk’s second season.
A lot of people blamed Giorgio for our loss to Oregon, but IT WASN’T HIS FAULT. First of all, the reason that Giorgio took a misstep causing the flag for a false start and forcing Giorgio to kick again (pretty much “icing” Giorgio). Now the reason for this misstep from Giorgio was because of the miscommunication among Giorgio, Brock Mansion (holder), and Matt Rios (long snapper) caused by the loud noise coming from the large crowd of Oregon fans right behind end zone. We would not have had to face the Oregon crowd if we had decided to complete kick the field goal during the 3rd quarter when we faced a crowd of Cal fans, but instead we decided to wait out the seconds to kick the field goal in the 4th quarter facing the Oregon fans. We had enough time for our field goal squad to get out on the field and make a field goal. Even then, Giorgio’s Field Goal should not have been necessary for the win in the first place. Our offense couldn’t do anything that day. Our O-Line was getting pummeled so hard that Shane had no where to go, and at one point in the game Shane was on the sideline with his teeth covered in blood because he was getting hit hard and often by the Oregon defenders.
Giorgio was 11-16 on FGs last season, with his two longest FG (47 yard, 53 yard) made during the last game of the season against Washington. Giorgio is a constant worker and has the best personality on the entire team (always smiling and always grateful for where and who he is). Expect a Giorgio to increase his Field Goal Percentage to 75% this upcoming season. In terms of kickoff, Giorgio did a good job in placing the ball within our opponent’s 5-10 yard line. We should expect to see the same or better next season. Backing up Giorgio will be Vince D’Amato who will be a junior next season needs to tune up his consistency, range, and concentration in order to take over for Giorgio.
Bryan Anger will go down in Cal History as one of Cal’s best punters of all-time. Last season he averaged 45.6 yards per game with his furthest punt at 71 yards against Stanford. Anger was on last season’s First Team All Pac-10 squad, and is currently on a number of preseason All-American teams along with being on the Ray Guy Award list again. Even with Anger’s great punts he is known to blow it on occasion. Lets see if he can consistently hit his famous 70+ yarders next season. Backing up Anger will be Jed Barnett who has shown great capability during practice so Cal fans need not to worry if Anger goes down to injury.
The kick returner was not named on the Official Depth Chat, but my prediction is that at the end of summer camp Kaelin Clay and Coleman Edmond will start. Kaelin is the fastest player on the team and has great acceleration, while Coleman hits the hole fast and also has great acceleration. Their backups could be Steve Williams and Keenan Allen, but it is quite possible that our incoming freshmen will take those spots (ex. Brendon Bigelow).
With Jeremy Ross gone over to the NFL with the Patriots, the most likely replacement will be Keenan Allen. He has already shown Cal that he can return with his great speed and shifty moves. A punt returner needs to have great vision in finding the path and have DeSean Jackson-like moves. This is why players with great speed are usually placed as kick returners instead of punt returners. The backup to punt returner could be anyone but my front runners for that spot are Marvin Jones, Kaelin Clay, and Coleman Edmond.
FG : 68.8%, #74 National, #6 Pac-10
Punt: 45.56 yrd/game, #6 National, #2 Pac-10
Punt Return: 12.16 yrd/return, #23 National, #4 Pac-10
Kick Return: 21.32 yrd/return, #72 National, #8 Pac-10