In a long-awaited move, special teams coach Ray Rychleski has left South Carolina to take the same position with the Indianapolis Colts. While we can't blame Coach Ray for leaving for a position at a succesful NFL franchise under his old colleague and new Colts coach Jim Caldwell, his departure is a tough blow to Gamecocks fans. Rychleski, known for leading stellar special teams units while at Maryland, brought instant improvement to the Gamecocks' units in his first year in 2008. We had effective kick returns units, didn't give up as many blocked kicks as we had over the prior two years, and generally looked more competent. The blocked FG against Vandy, weird kickoff return lateral against Florida, and blocked punt against Clemson weren't very memorable plays for Ray's reputation, but compared to some of the pathetic stuff we had to see in 2006 and 2007, Ray did a fantastic job.
Shane Beamer, who coached special teams in 2007, will move back to that position after coaching cornerbacks this past year. (Lorenzo Ward will coach the secondary this coming year.) We can only hope that 2009 won't be a repeat of 2007 in terms of special teams play, but I can't say that I'm quite as confident in our units as I was with Rychleski on the staff. However, as said it's easy to understand why Coach Ray took his new job, and I wish him luck.
We also hired Jeep Hunter as our new TEs coach. I'll have more on him after I do some research.