Who’s your favorite special teamer? Is it Rafael Gaglianone from Wisconsin?
Or is it Northwestern’s own lightsaber-wielding Bo Cisek?
Maybe it’s Minnesota’s Peter Mortell calling for backup?
Me: "Yeah, we're going to need some back up." pic.twitter.com/JzNv4KXgIg— Peter Mortell (@PMortell1) November 23, 2014
Or how about the few, the proud, the Punters?
Who’s your favorite special teams player?
GF: I mean, obviously:
(LPW Ed Note: Graham, you’re a dick)
But also, Peppers, obviously, future HOFer. Direct impact on the punt return game was ridiculous.
Let’s also mention that MSU needs to fire its special teams coach, and everyone knows it...except Mark Dantonio. Everyone knows it. Everyone.
LPW: Ok, two can play that game Graham .
My favorite special teams player is the hero of the 2014 NU - ND Game, Jack Mitchell!
MNW: First, let’s actually talk about wisconsin’s special teams, shall we?
Rafael Gaglianone will be fine. He is a Good Kicker, unless he has some Griffin Oakes-esque mental meltdown in 2017.
The badgers’ special teamers have yo-yo’d in FEI special teams ratings between “above average” and “mediocre” since the days of Brad Nortman...and quite frankly, I still can’t believe it’s cost them just a loss to Arizona State (which was the fault of Joel Stave anyways, I think we can all agree).
The only team statistically worse at punting the football since Nortman left? Northwestern.
Now, any badger fan can tell you that Anthony Lotti is...not ideal punting the football. He was dead last in the Big Ten in 2016 at 37.7 YPP, even worse that rutger. RUTGER. Yet while in FEI the badgers are 101st in Punting Efficiency, they’re 12th in Net Field Position. So we’re looking at the offense bailing out the punter by stalling out around midfield, rather than vice-versa.
Going back a few years, this pattern holds. Drew Meyer was 12th in the conference (39.7 ypp) in 2015, but the badgers were 61st in PE and 13th in NFP. Meyer was 12th at 37.4 (how) in 2014, and finally we see wisconsin slip to 104th in PE and 72nd in NFP. It might not, then, surprise you to learn that 2014 was wisconsin’s worst FEI defensive ranking (33rd) of the three (they were 5th in 2015 and 2016).
All this is to say that while Rafael Gaglianone is dancing and we’re all well and enamored with that, any regression on the part of the badger defense or inability of the badger offense to cross midfield could quickly exacerbate wisconsin’s special teams woes and make punting an even bigger concern.
There, I even put it in bold so you chucklefucks would find the main takeaway. And fuck you for making me think of Chris goddamn Gradone on a beautiful Thursday.
My favorite special teamers of all time are St. Jeff Budzien, Patron Saint of Field Goals, and Rhys Lloyd/Dan Nystrom, the guys who started my obsession with kicking and punting back when I was but a wee lad.
Aaron: Joey Julius
He’d be even better if he could make field goals consistently. That’s why I also have a special place in my heart for Sam Ficken, who started out his Penn State career as a pariah when he missed four field goals in a loss at Virginia. He ended up as one of the most reliable kickers in school history with a school-record 15 consecutive successful attempts between 2012 and 2013 as well as the game-winning field goal against UCF in the 2014 Croke Park Classic opener.