"Countdown To Kickoff": Special Teams
Editor's Note: This is the eighth and final installment of
an eight-part series produced by the FSU Athletics Communications
Office looking at different position groups as the Bulldogs prepare
for their 2010 season opener on Friday, Sept. 3, at
Big Rapids, Mich. - If the Bulldogs hope to experience success this fall, an improved special teams area will likely play a major role.
In terms of the kicking game, the Bulldogs should have one of the conference's better place kickers in junior Shawn Snoor (Diamondale/Holt), who handled virtually all of the kicking duties last fall.
Snoor made six of eight field goal tries along with 14-of-15 extra point attempts a season ago while ranking among the program's top 20 all-time single season leaders with his six made field goals.
"Shawn's the one guy we have back on the roster with experience in the kicking game and we expect him to be consistent and improve again this fall," said FSU head coach Jeff Pierce. "He's been around for a couple of years and will be counted on to produce in terms of the special teams area."
The 6-1 Snoor is also projected to handle the Bulldogs' punting duties this fall with the departure of last year's punter Mitchell Voss. Snoor punted only five times in 2009, but averaged 40.8 yards per punt.
Behind Snoor, the Bulldogs have several young kickers and punters with little if any game experience. They include sophomores Cody Hillman (Holland) and Catlin Porter (Midland) along with redshirt freshman Austin Kantola (Ravenna). Freshman Ethan McCarthy (Fremont) also joined the mix this fall although it will take a strong push for anyone to unseat Snoor.
FSU should be solid in terms of long snappers as senior Brian Bush (Coopersville) is back after being the primary snapper for most of the past few seasons. Sophomore Tyler Uekman (Alpena) will be in his second season with the Bulldogs and should serve as the backup.
The return game also figures to be solid with the return of juniors Damien Miller (Elsie/Ovid-Elsie) and Mike Ryan (Howell), who have both served as return men for the past two years. Sophomore backs Tyler Thomas (Jackson) and Skyler Stoker (Jackson/Grass Lake) both have the ability to break the long return as well and could see action. Newcomer John Webster (Richmond, Calif./El Cerrito) is another name who could surface as either a punt or kick returner on the Bulldogs' special teams unit.
In terms of the punting game, the Bulldogs also have the luxury of possibly using either quarterback Tom Schneider (Jerome/Addison) or Stoker, both of whom have shown the ability to kick the ball away and could force defenses to think as FSU leaves its offense on the field.
Finally, Miller is projected to be the holder once again on kick attempts with Ryan or Schneider perhaps other viable options.