Spring Report Card: Special Teams
The special teams appear to be in good shape coming out of spring practice. Jad Dean and Cole Chason return in the kicking game, and the return game has some new weapons at its disposal.
Dean is one of the premier placekickers in the nation. The ACC may have the best group of kickers in the nation, evident by the fact that Dean was a Lou Groza award finalist, but he was not selected to the first team All-ACC. Dean has tended to struggle in the spring, but he has always been dependable come gametime.
This spring Dean had some minor issues, but there nothing to be overly concerned with. Dean has a strong leg, and he has proven to be very good in the clutch. He has a chance to end his career as one of the best placekickers to every kick for Clemson.
Chason had a season, he would rather not remember in 2005. On Signing Day, head coach Tommy Bowden said incoming freshman Richard Jackson would be co-number one on the depth chart in the fall. It was a clear message to Chason that he needed to have a good effort in the spring.
For the most part, Chason had a solid spring. The Orange and White game was not a reflection of his performance this spring. Some critics did question whether Chason would be competitive enough to fight off Jackson, and he showed this spring he would be.
Jacoby Ford was the most talked name going into the spring. Some believed he would be the main return man the first day he stepped on campus. He struggled fielding punts, which will obviously be an area he works on this summer. Ford will likely be the return man on kickoffs, but Chansi Stuckey will still handle punt returns. Aaron Kelly and Tyler Grisham also give the Tigers some fire power in the return game.
Overall, the special teams showed up well in the spring. There are very little if any live returns in the spring. The new punt formation should help Chason. Dean will continue to work hard, as he is never satisfied, and he should put himself right in position for some national awards.