Summer Reading 2013: Specialists

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Alec Vozenilek

Over the last several weeks, TheSabre.com’s “Summer Reading” series has looked at the UVa football team. The articles went position by position to analyze the roster and the likely contributors on offense and defense for Virginia in 2013. The series wraps up with this final piece on the specialists.

This group remains mostly intact from 2012 with only placekicker Drew Jarrett no longer on the roster. The other key contributors as well as the primary back-ups all return in orange and blue this fall.

In fact, the biggest change in the offseason came in the coaching ranks. Head coach Mike London handed the reins to the special teams over to Larry Lewis, a special teams guru of sorts. Lewis has 32 years of college coaching experience under his belt and he first began special teams work in 1981. At Washington State in the 1990s, he became one of the first college coaches to be listed as special teams coordinator.

At his last two coaching stops, Lewis guided successful special teams. At Colorado State in 2011, the Rams ranked in the top 25 nationally for punting and kick returns. In 2010, CSU finished in the top 20 in kick returns. In 2012 at Nevada, Khalid Wooten finished fourth in the nation in punt return average (15.1 yards per return) while Brock Kendall ended up sixth in the Mountain West Conference at 23.4 yards per kick return. Lewis’ placekicker missed just one field goal and one PAT, while the punter averaged 43.3 yards per attempt.

Other than PATs – Virginia didn’t miss any last season – all of those numbers are better than the Cavaliers posted in 2012. Will Lewis provide the boost UVa’s special teams need? He certainly will have some experienced players to work with among the specialists as well as plenty of players that have logged snaps on the return and cover units early in their careers.

Let’s take a closer look at the specialists.

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