The final unit preview seems to be pretty straightforward. Purdue returns both kickers and even with some new faces there, it would be a surprise to see either lose their jobs. The biggest loss is Raheem Mostert. The school's best ever kick returner in terms of total yards is now trying to make it with the Philadelphia Eagles, while Akeem Hunt, who was pretty damn good in his own right, is in the same boat with the New York Giants.
The largest area of improvement needs to be kick coverage. Either Purdue needs to kick the ball out of the end zone or actually tackle a returner, because the coverage units were just plain bad:
But special teams is going to only be so much of a strength if kickoffs and punts are a drain on field position. Purdue allowed 11.4 yards per punt return, 12th in the conference, and while the Boilermakers allowed a healthier 19.8 yards per kick return (37th nationally), Griggs' kickoffs were short and inefficient. Purdue ranked in the triple digits in kickoff and punt efficiency, which meant that the bend-don't-break defense was already bending before a drive even started.
Ideally, this is where the talented incoming freshmen can make a difference. The best teams have their freshmen cut their teeth on the coverage units. We could see guys like Wyatt Cook, Evyn Cooper, and other promising freshmen get some licks in on Special Teams.
K: Paul Griggs -Sr.
P: Thomas Meadows - Sr.
LS: Ben Makowski - Fr.
KR: Danny Anthrop- Sr. , Anthony Brown - Sr.
PR: Frankie Williams - Sr.
There are not a ton of surprises there. There was a comment on the GBI post the other day that Makowski is a true freshman that will likely play, so that means he beat out a couple of long snappers who have been with the team awhile. That's too bad too. It looked like a guy was going to get rewarded for his loyalty of waiting for Jesse Schmitt to be gone and a freshman comes in to take it from him.
With Griggs Purdue has one of the more reliable kickers in the Big Ten. He has 55 yard range, a game-winner on the road as part of his resume, and three years of experience. Meadows was inefficient last season and might get a push from "The Show".
In the return game losing Mostert and Hunt is a huge loss. Both were threats to score every time they touched the ball. I am stunned that Anthrop is back there, as valuable as he is. In terms of flat out speed I would rather see Trae Hart or the mysterious athleticism of Jarrett Burgess. As a punt returner Frankie Williams is among the best in the conference.
P: Joe Schopper - Fr.
P: Jake Herr - Fr.
K: Brian Bravo - Fr.
K: Myles Homan - Fr.
With both major specialists being seniors this year the Boilers have to replace them after the season. Fortunately, there are several options. Joe "The Show" Schopper could actually see some play this year if Meadows struggles. He is a very good punter from Cathedral in Indianapolis. Bravo could also see the field as a kickoff specialist since no one can consistently reach the end zone. Both Herr and Homan are walk-ons. Herr comes from Carmel and Homan from Cincinnati St. Xavier, so they were both kickers for very good high school teams.
Because Long Snappers Need Love Too:
John Vargyas - Fr.
Grant Ellington - Sr.
It looked like Ellington was going to get rewarded for waiting for Schmitt to leave, but Makowski came in and is already doing extremely well as one of the top recruited longsnappers in the country. As I have said before, there are only two times you know who the longsnapper is:
1. When he screws up a snap.
2. When you're an obsessive blogger like me.
Since we haven't had a screwed up snap in a very long time (1999 Alamo Bowl, anyone?) we definitely fall into category No. 2. Both of them get a mention here because hey, longsnappers need love too.