September 15, 2009

Tuesday Notebook: Special Teams Focus

Missouri had plenty to replace coming into this season. But perhaps nowhere were the holes more glaring than on the special teams. The Tigers held a three-way competition for the placekicking job throughout fall camp with the winner gaining the honor of replacing Jeff Wolfert, the most accurate kicker in NCAA history.

Grant Ressel won that job...and hasn't missed since. Ressel has made all five of his field goals and all eight extra point attempts in two games.

"Grant has been a huge plus for us," Gary Pinkel said. "And those weren't chip shots either."

But while the answer seems to be in at kicker, questions still remain in the return game. Missouri ranks 74th in the nation in kickoff returns and 108th in returning punts. But the coach says there are separate reasons for the two.

"Punt returns, we're getting very few opportunities...A couple times he (Carl Gettis) went for it just to try to do something. We told him he'd probably be better off fair catching it," Pinkel said. "Kickoff return-wise, they're certainly kicking to us. I think Jasper Simmons is doing a good job. I just think we've got to do a better job blocking for him because I think he'll be really, really good at it."

Meanwhile, Jake Harry is averaging 46.6 yards per punt and the Tigers are sixth in the nation in net punting. The average was boosted by a 69-yard boot that turned the field position around against Bowling Green.

"That was one of the best punts I've ever been associated with since I've been coaching," Pinkel said. "That was just a game-changing field position football play."

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