September 20, 2011

GBK: Special team players starting to emerge

The only time kickers and punters are mentioned, is either when things go well or when they go bad ... there never seems to be that gray area.

Well, when it comes to two phases of the Black Knights' special teams, punting and kick return, they both fall into the gray zone ... but are emerging.

Neither is overly good or excessively poor, which is why Special Teams Asst./Fullbacks Coach, Joe Ross continues to test and tweak at these two segments of the Army arsenal, so that at some point the gray area becomes the very good area.

Punting

In the first two games of the season, Kolin Walk handled the punting duties for Army, with partner Chris Boldt patiently waiting in the wings.

Prior to Army hosting Northwestern, Boldt who reigns from St. Louis (MO) received the nod from Ross that he would be taking care of the punting duties against the Wildcats in last Saturday's contest.

But it wasn't because of Walk's performance, which has been relatively .... well, "gray" in the first two games of the season. Walk has a 41 yard average to go along with a long of 54 yards, although his first punt of the year was blocked and return for a touchdown by Northern Illinois.

So why the change?

"Those guys have been neck and neck since spring ball," shares Ross. "They're still neck and neck ... and I wanted to see what Boldt would do in a game situation. As far as I'm concern, they're still neck and neck."

When it comes to Army's upcoming game against Ball State this Saturday, don't be surprise to see another rotation flip from Ross, which means that Walk could take over the punting reigns this weekend.

Kickoff Returns

Ross has gone with an assortment of players, as the 3rd year coach started the season with Raymond Maples, along with Jonathan Crucitti and even fullback Larry Dixon.

However, the productivity, like the punting remained relative gray, so Ross liked what he had seen in the emergence of seldom used slotback Scotty Williams and rest appears to be history.

"Right now we will probably go with Scotty Williams," adds Ross. "I really like the way Scotty is returning the ball. Scotty's is our guy, probably for the rest of the season."

"He just hits the hole faster and he can see the crease a little bit better than the other guys. You know, he worked hard to prove himself ... he proved himself in the "B" squad games and he's doing the right thing."

Although Williams' reps offensively are still minimal, the sophomore speedster has gained the confidence of the coaching staff and has been effective when called upon. This was noted in the 4th quarter of last weekend's game against Northwestern. With the scored tied at 14-14, the Black Knights faced with a 1st & 10 at the Wildcats' 30 yard line and with 4:52 remaining in the contest, Williams was in the game. He utilized his speed on an old fashion pitch and exploded for 17 yards around left end to the Northwestern 13 yard line, as the drive continued and lead to Army go ahead/winning touchdown.

With an already deep group of slotback, Williams is emerging as a quality spot player for the Black Knights.

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