Special teams shines for the Jayhawks

Originally posted on Rock Chalk Blog: September 24th, 2013.

Kansas football’s big win against Louisiana Tech on Saturday showed the Jayhawks have greatly improved from last season. Perhaps the most evident improvement was in the special teams department.

On Saturday, four of punter Trevor Pardula’s five punts were over 50 yards and three landed inside the 20. Pardula averaged 57.6 yards per punt (288 yards total), including his career-long 78-yarder and an additional 65-yarder. Pardula’s 78-yard punt is good for T-8th all time on Kansas’ all-time punting list and was the longest punt since Rich Reith hit a 78-yarder on Oct. 18, 1986.

Pardula’s performance earned him several awards:

  • Special Teams Player of the Week by the Big 12 Conference
  • Ray Guy Award Player of the Week
  • College Football Performance Awards Punter of the Week

So far this season, Pardula has 745 total punting yards on just 15 punts, good for a 49.67 yards per punt average. Seven of his punts were over 50 yards and six landed inside the 20-yard line. Last season, the Jayhawks punted the ball away 62 times in 12 games.

The average yardage per punt was 40.58 with an average of 5.2 punts a game. Through three games in 2013, Pardula is averaging nine yards more per punt. Pardula is averaging 5.3 punts per game 3 games into the season, which comparable to last season’s statistics.

Pardula isn’t the only Jayhawk kicking well so far this season.

Sophomore walk-on kicker Matthew Wyman attempted three field goals on Saturday and he made two of them, a 39-yarder and a 52-yarder. The 52-yarder, as you already know, was the game-winner as time expired launching the Jayhawks to their first win over a FBS team in 742 days. Wyman is 3-for-5 on attempted field goals this season. His first field goal came in the season opener against South Dakota, a 45-yarder.

Last season’s Jayhawks weren’t very good… to put it lightly.

Nick Prolago and Ron Doherty combined for 10 field goals. Prolago was 5-for-6 and Doherty was 5-for-10 over the season. While Wyman’s percentage is comparable so far, the Jayhawks feel like they have a competent kicker for once. Weis regularly went for it on fourth down last season when he would typically attempt to get three points.

Just how good was Wyman’s field goal?

Wyman’s 52-yarder is good for sixth longest in the NCAA this season and he’s one of 16 NCAA Division I athletes to hit a field goal of over 50 yards this season. All three of Wyman’s made field goals this year have been longer than KU’s longest field goal during the last two season (37 total field goals made).

For his efforts, Wyman was named one of three Lou Groza Stars of the Week.

The other special team star for Kansas this season is Connor Embree. He has returned five punts this season for a total of 94 yards. One of his returns against South Dakota went for 42 yards.

Last season, Kansas 10 punts return all season (which ranked 118th of 124th in college football) and only had 90 total return yards (100th in college football). Embree had 92 yards in the South Dakota game alone.

Looking at how last season compares to the stats this season, the Jayhawks are in good hands with their special teams performers.

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