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OSU football: Coaches take unusual approach to special teams

Mike Gundy and staff are ‘collective coordinators' for spring practice — and maybe the 2012 season.
BY GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, gmizell@opubco.com Published: April 8, 2012

STILLWATER — It's been an expected scene during the early portion of each Oklahoma State spring practice.

Inside receivers coach Doug Meacham directing the Cowboys' kickoff coverage team. Wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn working with the returners. Running backs coach Jemal Singleton, safeties coach Van Malone, cornerbacks coach Jason Jones and other staff members assisting, as well.

Head coach Mike Gundy decided not to immediately appoint an assistant coach as special teams coordinator, a role previously held by Joe DeForest. Instead, coaching and organizing special teams has been a group effort during spring football.

“I like the way we're handling it,” Dunn said. “We'll evaluate again, I'm sure, going into (fall) camp and see where we are with trying to spearhead some things.”

But “spearhead” doesn't necessarily mean that one guy will be in charge of the entire special teams unit. There's a strong possibility Gundy could opt to not have a special teams coordinator at all in 2012 and instead continue to divide those responsibilities among several coaches.

The main reasoning for going that route, should Gundy decide to do that, is that putting the entire load of organizing and directing special teams on one assistant is a lot for a guy who also coaches a position. DeForest was used to balancing it all because he did it for 11 seasons at OSU and at Duke before arriving in Stillwater.

Dunn was also a special teams coordinator at his previous coaching stops at Washington State (1998-2002) and Baylor (2007) and knows what that extra workload is like.

“It was nice when DeFo would kind of come in and do it himself,” Dunn said. “But with a few more hands in it, I think it's pretty good. It gives everybody a little more responsibility, ties everybody in.”

Other factors to consider are that the new kickoff rule is designed to produce more touchbacks and essentially de-emphasize that play, especially with Quinn Sharp doing the kicking for OSU. Additionally, kickers and long snappers spend the bulk of each practice working on their own on a separate field.

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