Inconsistency has plagued Alabama’s special teams in the last two seasons.
Former Alabama placekicker Cade Foster cost the team an opportunity to play for a national championship in 2013, and junior Adam Griffith sustained a stress fracture in his back last season. He connected on five of his last 12 field goal attempts, after starting a perfect 7 for 7.
Biblical references have stated that “a child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)
The child became none other than 6-foot-5, 195-pound punter JK Scott. As a freshman, Scott feared nothing last season. He pinned opponents’ inside the 20-yard line with ease, and gave Alabama’s defense an opportunity to generate huge plays. Scott earned Special Teams Player of the Week honors from Alabama’s coaching staff for his efforts in eight games, but his performance against Arkansas helped the Crimson Tide escape with a 14-13 win.
Scott led the nation in punting, averaging 48.0 yards per boot in 2014.
31 of his 55 punts (56.4 percent) pinned opponents’ inside the 20. Scott had 23 punts to go in excess of 50 yards, and was named a finalist for the Ray Guy Award. He earned freshman All-American honors from Sporting News and Football Writers of America Association.
ESPN, Sporting News and USA Today all listed him as a first-team All-American.
When healthy, Adam Griffith is an exceptional kicker. The 5-foot-10, 192-pound junior was listed as the nation’s top kicking prospect by 247 sports and Scout.com, prior to enrolling at Alabama in 2012. He was a perfect 5 for 5 on extra-point attempts, and connected on one of three field goals in 2013. Griffith missed one extra-point in 54 tries last season.
He made 12 of 19 field goals, but Griffith looks to gain confidence and consistency this fall.
A duplication of 2014 would be ideal for Scott, however, he is capable of doing more. The sophomore has a chance to put up some numbers that could stand in history for a long time.
For kickers, consistency usually comes in the junior season. It is now Giffith’s time to prove why he was so coveted coming from Calhoun, Ga., in 2012. He is usually solid from the middle of the field, but kicking from the hash marks is an area that Griffith needs to improve on.
Field position is crucial to success for Alabama.
Head coach Nick Saban would tell former quarterback AJ McCarron that any possession ending in a punt, field goal or extra-point is a good possession. Scott will look to build off last season’s performance, but can Griffith put it together in 2015?
Will Alabama’s special teams be productive?
Stephen M. Smith is a staff writer and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.