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Special Teams Breakdown: Kick Returns

Nobis has you covered on the breakdown of the advanced defensive metrics from Football Study Hall, so I thought I’d take a crack at looking through the special teams numbers to see where Texas can improve, and how. First up, kick returns.

Texas currently has a Kick Return Success Rate — essentially a measure of how often the Longhorns get at least 24 yards on a return — of 11.8%. Eleven point eight percent. That's good for a crisp 126th in the country.

Now I know what you're thinking: “hey, that's not too bad!” Well, I thought so too. But I looked it up, and it turns out there are only 128 teams. So it is actually bad. Maybe even really bad. I know. I'm just as shocked as you, friend.

I believe there is an answer, though. Let’s take a look at the opening return for Texas against Oklahoma State:

You’ll see that the Catch & Run Man (Devin Duvernay) is in good position to receive The Football, and the Stand in Front Man (Kyle Porter) is properly aligned to observe both the end zone and the oncoming kicking team. So far, so good.

OK, stop the tape right there. Duvernay has secured The Football, which is half the battle, but you’ll see that Porter has gotten himself completely out of position here. He’s turned downfield and is sprinting recklessly away from Duvernay, headed lord only knows where… the whole thing is just an absolute mess. This simply will not do.

Now roll the tape back 2 seconds, and let’s see how we can fix this.

You see that? That right there? The moment that the Catch & Run Man has The Football, the Stand in Front Man should already be pivoting upfield, breaking on The Football, and MEETING IT WITH DEVASTATING VIOLENCE. Porter needs to drop his hips and EXPLODE THROUGH THE BALL CARRIER LIKE A FUCKING METEOR RIPPING INTO THE BUCKLING EARTH.

If the Catch & Run Man proves too shifty (contrary body of evidence notwithstanding), then go ahead and commit an extra man back there and force the issue. But no matter what – and I absolutely cannot stress this enough – he needs to be dropped to the turf like a lifeless slab of meat before he can so much as gesture towards the goal line, much less cross it.

As soon as Texas starts repping this one simple fix, I anticipate that average field position after kickoffs will rapidly approach a satisfactory threshold of the 25-yard line. Thoughts?