Oklahoma State football: Special-teams units remain question mark

It's difficult for coach Mike Gundy to evaluate his special teams at this point in the spring, because things will change when freshmen arrive this fall.
by Gina Mizell Published: April 6, 2013
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photo - Oklahoma State's Josh Stewart (5) carries the ball on a reverse for a touchdown in the first quarter during a college football game between Oklahoma State University (OSU) and West Virginia University (WVU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma State's Josh Stewart (5) carries the ball on a reverse for a touchdown in the first quarter during a college football game between Oklahoma State University (OSU) and West Virginia University (WVU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

“I'm trying to add that to my game,” Stewart said. “I don't want to just be a receiver. … As of now, I'm the punt return guy, and I plan on keeping it that way.”

KICK RETURNER

Justin Gilbert returns as one of the nation's most electrifying kick returners, already totaling a school-record five touchdowns. Jeremy Smith also returned kicks last season, but that could change with him likely to move into the starting running back role.

HOLDER

Reichenstein has taken over the holding duties after Wes Harlan was flawless in that role during his Cowboy career.

LONG SNAPPER

This is one of the special teams areas where the Cowboys have plenty of experience, as Connor Sinko returns to snap on field goals and extra points and Andrew Suter is back to snap on punts.

COVERAGE/BLOCKING UNITS

This is probably the toughest area to gauge right now because the true freshmen (except Naim Mustafaa) have not yet arrived. But this is an area where OSU must improve, as the Cowboys allowed three total return touchdowns last season and ranked 111th in the nation in kickoff return yards allowed (24.85 per return) and 114th in punt return yards allowed (12.31 per return).

ORGANIZATION/COACHING

Gundy said he is satisfied with the Cowboys' approach to special teams organization yet added the coaching could have been better in 2012. But he puts that on himself, not Linder. The Cowboys have tweaked some assistant coaching responsibilities — for instance, new receivers coach Jason Ray is handling punt returners — and Linder and Gundy have continued to work closely on overseeing all areas.

“It was new from me, because (DeForest) had been here for 100 years,” Gundy said. “So we went through some adjustments. … I think that we were as productive as we could have been in some areas. But we should be more productive in others (this season), just from an experience standpoint and Ty being here and understanding a little bit more about our assistant coaches and what their strengths (are) in those certain special teams.”


by Gina Mizell
OSU Sports Reporter
Gina Mizell joined The Oklahoman in August of 2011 as the Oklahoma State beat writer, where she covered the Cowboys' historic run to the Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl in her first season on the job. Before arriving in Stillwater, Gina was...
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