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Was AT&T Stadium too much for Alabama’s special teams?

Matthew Emmons- USA TODAY Sports

AT&T Stadium is home to the Dallas Cowboys, its owner Jerry Jones, a huge X-Box and a big TV screen, but did it make Alabama’s special teams uncomfortable Saturday against Wisconsin? The answer is a resounding “Yes.”

Alabama’s JK Scott is considered by most as the best punter in college football. The 6-foot-5, 198-pound sophomore had a dynamic season in 2014, averaging 48.0 yards punt.

His first punt in Alabama’s season opener against West Virginia last year traveled 62 yards, pinning the Mountaineers inside its 20-yard line. Scott didn’t execute well against Wisconsin, as he averaged 36.8 yards per boot. He suffered two shanks of 20 and 38 yards.

He’s as flexible as they come, yet Scott was more worried about hitting the giant television than focusing on generating poor field position for the Badgers. It wasn’t his best night, but at least Scott did have two good punts of 46 and 43 yards, balancing out the two questionable kicks.

Junior placekicker Adam Griffith is in a real funk that was carried over from last season.

He missed seven of his last 12 field goal attempts in 2014, after starting a perfect 7 of 7. Griffith entered Saturday night’s contest 12 of 19 on field goal tries, and missed two against Wisconsin. He missed to the left on a 44-yard try in the third quarter and to the right on a 39-yard attempt in the fourth quarter. Not even a jerking feature on ESPN could help him.

Griffith’s 44-yard attempt came on the heels of three penalties from Alabama’s offensive line; however, both tries were of manageable distance for the redshirt junior.

Having a short term memory is the difference between Scott and Griffith.

The sophomore will find a way to bounce back from Saturday’s performance. Griffith’s mental toughness has lacked since Alabama’s meeting with Florida in 2014. He made a game-tying field goal against LSU, but it’s the only heroic moment in the books for Griffith.

How much longer will Alabama head coach Nick Saban stay with Griffith?

He’s made 13 of 22 field attempts since arriving on campus in 2012. Griffith was the nation’s top kicking prospect out of Calhoun, Ga., but has nothing to show for it. His field goal percentage is 54.2 percent, which is an F in school and Alabama football.

The lone positives on special teams were Cyrus Jones and a few freshmen making tackles.

Leigh Tiffin (2006-09) was Alabama’s last consistent kicker. Jeremy Shelley held his own when he needed, while Eddy Pineiro is the hopeful future for Alabama. Scott will learn and improve as Alabama returns to practice Tuesday, but what will it take for Saban to reach Adam Griffith?

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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