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Kicking game, special teams ahead of curve at Alabama for 2019

John David Mercer - USA TODAY Sports

The media learned a valuable lesson on Saturday: Don’t equate special teams with just the kicker and punter around Nick Saban, because the Alabama football coach will get you. 

Upon finishing the conversation on the reporters’ version of special teams versus what the position really entails, Saban went on to state how the Crimson Tide is ahead of the curve in all facets of special teams this year versus last season. After the first scrimmage, he did provide positive insight on the third phase of football – which included him praising the coverage team. 

“Kicking game was good,” Saban said. 

“We made a lot of changes in the kicking game last year, which was really beneficial in terms of statistics. We improved on kickoff and punt return and got explosive plays to the point where in the second half of the season, we were not getting the ball kicked to us so we could return it. I think we have a few more guys that buy in to playing on special teams well. The coverage units did a pretty good job last year.” 

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After the establishing the kicker/punter from special teams itself, Saban did bring in the performance true freshman kicker Will Reichard. 

“We have a new freshman kicker who kicked well today. He also punts and he punted well today,” Saban said. “We also had other guys that were better today than they have been in the past, which is what our hope is so that we can develop them and improve.” 

Reichard, a three-star from Hoover, Ala., was the nation’s top kicking prospect in the 2019 class.

Skyler Delong, a three-star from the 2018 class, was one of the guys that has looked better this offseason. According to sources, both Reichard and Delong punted well in the scrimmage and Reichard made one of two field goal attempts.  

When it comes to the return game, Tide fans want to see more of Jaylen Waddle. 

He had over 1,000-yard total yards (1,081, 233 on punt return) in 2018 and turned in one touchdown against Louisiana at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama has had issues with positive consistency in the kicking game since 2012; however, Reichard looks to be the answer on field goals and Delong anticipates bouncing back from rough freshman year in handling punts.  

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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