Today is the final day of the eight part Depth Chart Series and it is where one of the most heated positional battles remains. Much like Gary Nord and his love for multiple quarterbacks, J.B. Gibboney loved multiple kickers last season, sometimes switching them around mid-game. That resulted in some struggles and maybe even multiple blocked kicks, one of which cost us the massive upset at Ohio State.
At the other major spots on Special Teams Purdue appears to be set. We have a solid punter and a kick returner. Long Snapper has a recruited, scholarship guy handling duties flawlessly. Punt returner is... well, we'll get to that.
Both players split duties last season almost down the middle and it resulted in a performance of only 9 of 14 on field goals as a team. Each had highlights and lowlights. McCartney hit a clutch field goal at Notre Dame in the fourth quarter but only had a long of 36 without ever attempting one of 40 yards. He was more accurate on field goals at 5 of 7, but was 28 of 31 on extra points.
Griggs had the better leg, but struggled with accuracy. He took all of Purdue's attempts over 40 yards and was 2 of 3 in such kicks. He was only 4 of 7 overall, but one of his makes was the game-winner as time expired at Iowa. On extra points he had fewer chances, but was 16 of 18.
Everything I have seen so far has them once again in a dead heat. In fact, they may split duties again with McCartney getting the shorter attempts and Griggs going longer. If Griggs improves his accuracy you have to think he has a small edge with the longer range and the fact he is on scholarship while McCartney is a walk-on townie. Purdue wants something out of that scholarship investment in the end.
Kickoff Specialist: Thomas Meadows - So.
For now, Meadows is a second scholarship kicker and he is here for one thing: kickoffs. He has not attempted an extra point or field goal since arriving at Purdue but averaged 58.9 yards on 70 kickoffs a season ago. He finished with 12 touchbacks and knocked three out of bounds.
Meadows could be in line to start at punter next season after averaging 41.2 yards in high school. Purdue has a committed punter for next season, but Meadows is at least a solid option in that department.
Punter: Cody Webster - Sr.
One of the most athletic kickers in recent memory, Webster enters the season on the watch list for the Ray Guy Award and as a player that can do more than punt. He had three fake punts runs for 24 yards and as a former wide receiver in high school he is quite good with the football in his arms. In fact, I will make a semi-bold statement: Webster will throw at least one pass sometime this season. He spent this spring pitching for the baseball team too.
Last year he averaged 42.3 yards per punt and pinned 29 of 70 kicks inside the 20. He even had a long bomb of a 72 yard punt. He should be among the conference's best punters and be a possible all-Big Ten selection. Unfortunately, the more we see him on the field not for holds the worse the offense is doing. Thanks to the Nordfense he was punting over 5 times per game.
Kick Returner: Raheem Mostert - Jr.
We've looked to get Mostert and his speed in the offense in better ways and that means a possible move to running back. Still, he is one of the nation's premier kickoff returners. In 2011 he led the country with a 33.5 yards per return average and one touchdown. Last year he was doing well before missing four games with a knee injury. Akeem Hunt took over and did well, but this should still be Mostert's spot.
Mostert is extremely dangerous on kickoffs. After giving up the winning field goal at Notre Dame he got Purdue in position for at least a Hail Mary heave when he nearly returned the following kickoff for a score. He can greatly help an offense that is struggling by giving Purdue the ball in excellent field position. His senior year in high school he returned nine kickoffs and one punt for a touchdown.
Long Snapper: Jesse Schmitt - Jr.
Schmitt is going into his third season as a starter and has yet to miss a game at the position. In 2011 he handled only punt snaps, but last year he handled all kicks. There are a couple of other long-snappers on the roster, but this is Schmitt's job to lose. If you don't know of him that is okay. It means he is doing an excellent job because he hasn't screwed up a snap yet.
Punt Returner: ?
This is the only position on the team that I can simply leave as a question mark because Purdue has gotten NOTHING from the position lately. Josh Johnson had nine returns last year for a paltry 27 yards, 16 of which came on one return. Frankie Williams handled eight for only 11 yards, seven of which came on a single return. The best was Ricardo Allen, who returned one punt for 25 yards then never did it again.
Part of the issue may be blocking, which was generally horrid for Gibboney units. Last season Purdue had seven kicks of varying nature blocked. Despite how good he was with kickers his special teams units couldn't block Muggsy Bogues if they were Dikembe Motumbo. Hopefully that will improve and SOMETHING can happen in the punt return game.
You're damn right we go three deep at long snapper!
T-Mill's Depth Chart: