gamecocks 20008: Specialty of the House

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C&F does not intend to spend much time on special teams. This is because the mission for new special teams coordinator Ray Rychleski is fairly simple: Do better.

Do better with a unit that was unable to do better than a tie for 35th in any measure -- any measure -- of special teams.

Category Rank Returns/Punts Yds TD/TB Avg
Punt returns 46 23 ret 216 0 TD 9.39
Kickoff returns 35t 54 ret 1208 0 TD 22.37
PR defense 49 30 ret 241 1 TD 8.03
KR defense 104 46 ret 1099 0 TD 23.89
Net punting 71 59 punts 2330 3 TB 34.39*
*Net average; 2,330 is total yardage on punts.

Ryan Succop also wasn't the best field-goal kicker, either, tying for 68th in the country by going 13-of-17 (76.5 percent).

The bane of this unit's existence last year -- for the last two years, actually -- was the blocked kick, which drags down the punting average in particular. Rychleski's Maryland teams never had a punt blocked during his seven years in charge. As in, not one. As in, he had fewer punts blocked in seven years than the Gamecocks had blocked in one game last year. More than once.

Spurrier brought up Rychleski's name without prompting at SEC Media Days, and it's clear he's trying to do all he can to give the new special teams coordinator a shot to turn things around.

We got a new special teams coordinator, Ray Rychleski, came over from University of Maryland. He runs all the special teams. One of the first times I've had one guy do it all. First time since Ron Zook did it back in '95. We had a very good special team that year at Florida in '95.

Anyway, Ray is a guy that has his own way of doing things. We've changed our practice schedules around at South Carolina. Hopefully we're a little tougher, more disciplined because we certainly need that through the entire team.

And for those of you who hate the rugby-style kick, you'll love Rychleski.

"Once he takes off, he's free game," Rychleski said, illustrating his distaste for the running kicks. "Now you have a chance to knock the crap out of him legally."

Meanwhile, Succop might not handle all the kicking on his own this year. Spencer Lanning impressed Spurrier to start off the spring. Either that, or he has an evil twin Lanning Spencer who impressed Spurrier. One of the two.

How many ever kickers he uses, and by whatever name he calls them, Rychleki's teams don't have to be special to help boost the Gamecocks' chances.

They just have to be better.

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