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2014 Purdue Football Preview: Special Teams

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Purdue might have the best kick return duo in the country in 2014.

Michael Hickey

The final unit to preview is special teams, which is a critical unit as we know. During Purdue's Rose Bowl season the Boilers were 8-3 in the regular season, but if not for major special teams blunders it would have been 10-1. Don't even get me started on the 1999 season or 2002 seasons with Travis Dorsch and Berin Lacevic.

The Boilers will have an interesting special teams makeup in 2014. In some areas, Purdue could be the best in the nation. In others, well, there could be headaches.

Kicker:

Paul Griggs -Jr. OR Ian MacDougall- Sr. (5)

After yesterday's kick scrimmage this battle still has not been settled. It may not be settled until next Saturday whenever one of them trots out to attempt a field goal or an extra point. Griggs is the incumbent, but after two seasons he is only 10 of 19 on field goal attempts and 37 of 40 on extra points. Extra points need to be automatic, especially for a team that struggled so much to score in 2013. Griggs does have a 47-yard game-winning kick on his resume at Iowa in 2012. Unfortunately, he battled Sam McCartney that season and still hasn't been totally reliable.

MacDougall is making a one-year-only appearance in West Lafayette. He is a graduate transfer from Division III Wabash College and was 15 of 17 on field goals last year in Crawfordsville. A glorified HS field is a lot different than making a pressure kick in a Big Ten stadium, however.

One of these guys will also be the kickoff specialist, but that is not settled either. Both guys are close in fall camp and we're probably not going to know who wins until next Saturday.

Punter:

Thomas Meadows - Jr.

Meadows has been the kickoff specialist the last two years and won the punting by default this year. With Cody Webster gone and the sudden departure of Austin McGehee; Meadows was given the job. In high school he was a 2012 Ray Guy Prokicker.com High School All-American and averaged 41.2yardsper punt. That was two years ago though.

The problem with Meadows is that he is not going to be Webster. Webster was fantastic last year and one of the best in the nation. That's a tough standard for Meadows to match.

Kick Returner:

Akeem Hunt - Sr. and Raheem Mostert - Sr.

This is probably the best return tandem in the nation. Mostert is the fastest man in the Big Ten and was the nation's best returner in 2011. He has a pair of touchdown returns in his career including one for 100 yards last year. Hunt also has a pair of TD returns in his career and is pretty damn good in space.

For their careers Hunt has 1,666 return yards and Mostert has 1,558. If you kick to either one you are playing with fire.

Punt Returns:

Frankie Williams - Jr.

Purdue had a threat at punt returner last year as Williams averaged 16.8 yards per return on five returns. He had a long of 40 too. He has the job for now and could actually do something once he has the ball. B.J. Knauf and Trae Hart are also possible players that could play here.

Long Snapper:

Jesse Schmitt - Sr.

Schmitt is a three-year starter and has never had a single issue. Purdue is locked in here.

Holder:

Austin Appleby - So.

Well, Appleby is at least getting a chance to play somewhere. Beware the backup QB playing as the kick holder. It opens the playbook to a trick play or two, plus if there is a busted play he might be able to do something.

Final Analysis:

You can't ask for anyone better than Hunt and Mostert back there. Purdue is taking at least one kick all the way back sometime this year, and 2-3 would not surprise me. Mostert is just that good and Hunt isn't exactly terrible.

Everywhere else is a bit of a question mark.