OU vs Baylor Special Teams Preview
After rebounding last week with a win over Iowa State, the Sooners turn their attention to a home date against Baylor in a “revenge” game. Due to the success on both sides of the ball, the special teams unit wasn’t called upon very often last week. This week, the Sooners will once again feature the better special teams unit.
Two year starter Aaron Jones has been very inconsistent this year, and is only 10-16 on the year. Jones started off the year just 4-9, but has since rebounded by making 5 of his last 7. From 40 or more yards, there isn’t a lot of confidence with Jones, as he’s only 3-6. However, Jones owns or shares nine school kicking records heading into 2012. He’s tied for fourth all-time at Baylor with 208 career points, seventh all-time with .968 career PAT percentage and tied for fifth on school's career field goals list with 29 heading into 2012.
Michael Hunnicutt wasn’t called upon last week, and remains at 10-11 on the year. He connected on all five of his extra point attempts, and is now 25-26 on the year. Hunnicutt’s confidence is very high right now, and he’s earned the trust of everyone on the coaching staff. With tough games on the horizon, Hunnicutt needs to continue to play well.
Baylor has had some very good punters in the past such as Daniel Sepulveda and Derek Epperson. Spencer Roth is looking like he could be the next great one, as he’s coming off a season where he was named as an All Big-12 freshman. Only a sophomore, Roth ranks fourth in the Big 12 with an average of 43.8 yards per punt, even though he only kicks it away on an average of 2.75 times per game. 10 of Roth’s 22 punts have landed inside the 20, and six have went for 50 yards or more. With the Bears defense struggling as bad as they are, Roth will be needed to put the Sooners in tough spots on the field.
Tress Way is averaging 42.5 yards per punt, with only three touchbacks on the year. Way has 15 punts downed inside the 20, and has been a huge factor in pinning teams deep all year. Six of his punts have been over 50 yards, and has a long of 71 on the year.
Baylor’s kick return unit ranks 82nd in the nation, and is only averaging 19.9 a return. Antwan Goodley is the biggest threat in the return game for the Bears, as he’s averaging 20.1 yards a kickoff. Darryl Stonum is the other return man, and is averaging 19.1 yards a return. The Bears have had a total of six players return kicks this year, and three players are tied for the longest return at 28 yards.
Roy Finch’s 35.7 yard average would rank third in the nation if he had enough returns to qualify. Both Finch and Brennan Clay continue to do an excellent job returning kicks, and are one of the most dangerous return groups in the conference. It’s evident now that Finch will have to make his impact by returning kicks due to his limited number of carries. The interesting thing will be if Clay continues to return kicks as he gets more carries in the offense.
Much like the kick return game, Baylor has struggled returning punts this year, only averaging only 6.9 yards a return. Levi Norwood is the return man for the Bears, and has a long of 45 on the year. Even though the stats may not show it, Norwood has the skills to break loose and take one to the house. The Sooners need to be very careful when punting to him this week.
Justin Brown ranks third in the nation, averaging 17.8 yards a return. Brown’s opportunities are starting to get limited because every team the Sooners play are aware of the threat that he provides. The Sooners will match-up up against another very good punter, so don’t be surprised if Brown’s opportunities in the return game are limited once again.
The Sooners will be able to name the score on offense in this one, but it will be interesting to see how the defense fares. Oklahoma comes out strong and gets the revenge they’ve been waiting on in a 55-24 win.