By Conner Farrell–
The TLC football preview rolls on as our offensive breakdown concluded with last week’s look at the offensive line. The special teams unit is the focus of this week.
Kickers- Blanton Creque and Evan O’Hara
After splitting time in the 2016, redshirt junior Blanton Creque solidified his role as the starting kicker. Creque knocked 85 percent of his field goal attempts through in 2017, good enough for 14th in the country. The All-ACC honorable mention kicker connected on 58-of-59 point-after attempts, which were the most by a kicker since 2007.
Creque’s best moment of the 2017 season was on the road against Florida State as he delivered a game-winning field goal from 34 yards out to help the Cards nab their second road win of the season.
Creque and O’Hara again will both have playing time in 2018, with the former handling field goals and the latter kick-offs. Creque could be a name to look out for All-ACC awards in 2018.
Punter- Mason King
Redshirt junior Mason King build upon a school record-breaking 2016 season with an impressive 2017 season. King averaged 43.9 yards per punt last season, good enough for 25th in the country.
King only punted 43 times in 2017 for a total of 1887 yards, 10 of which netted more than 50 yards.
King is a weapon in the special teams game and can be counted on to set up the defense nicely when the offense stalls out on a drive. With Creque and King holding down the kicking game, Cards fans will not have to worry about that facet of the game.
Return specialists- Seth Dawkins, Russ Yeast, Tutu Atwell
The Cards lost two of their return specialists this past season in Reggie Bonnafon and Traveon Samuel, but return two players who fielded both punts and kick-offs.
Junior Seth Dawkins fielded 12 kick-offs and netted 255 yards, the most on the team in 2017. Dawkins is a big physical guy, who can run through guys but can also use elite speed to break-away from would be tacklers.
Sophomore Russ Yeast fielded 11 punts last season for 33 yards last season. Downfield blocking was a issue for the Cardinal special teams in 2017, which is why the team as a whole only produced 123 total punt return yards. The team must have better blocking for punt returners like Yeast to be able to use their quickness to set up the offensive.
An unknown in the return game is freshman wide-out Tutu Atwell. At 5-foot-9, Atwell is a tremendous athlete with blazing speed. Atwell was ranked as the 131 athlete coming out of Florida, playing at Northwestern High School, alma mater of former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Atwell can do it all, but could see the most playing time returning kicks for the Cards with his ability to make tacklers miss.
Long Snapper- Mitch Hall
Replacing former U of L long snapper and NFL draftee Colin Holba was an easy situation for sophomore Mitch Hall. Hall started all 13 games for the Cards and did not misplace one snap throughout the season.
Photo by Nancy Hanner / The Louisville Cardinal