Unit Analysis: Special Teams

Posted: July 14, 2014 in Football

Here we go. The start of the unit analysis series begins starts today with special teams. Each unit will be analyzed, looking at personnel from last year, those who returned, those who left the team, and what the  unit looks like heading into the fall. So let’s start with one of the most solid returning units for the team, special teams.

The special teams unit returns the starting punter (holder too), place kicker, and long snapper from the 2013 season. Coach Stu Holt has all of his skill players back on special teams for 2014, making it a very strong unit entering the year.

Here is the 2013 for kickers, punters, and the long snappers. I didn’t include the kick or punt returners because that always seems to be a shifting rotation and nearly anyone could fill in throughout the year. Players like Andre Davis, Chris Dunkley, and others saw time as returners. I stuck with just the specialists in this preview.

Long snapper:

David Burdetsky – 6’1″ 208 lbs. – Redshirt sophomore

Alex Salvato – 5’11” 165 lbs. – Redshirt freshman

Punter:

Aaron Munoz – 6′ 185 lbs. – Senior

Kickers:

Mattias Ciabatti – 6′ 184 lbs. – Redshirt sophomore

Marvin Kloss – 6′ 189 lbs. – Redshirt junior

Emilio Nadelman – 5’6″ 167 lbs. – Freshman

Special teams was probably the most consistent unit last season. Mattias Ciabatti averaged 40 yards a punt in his first year as the full time punter (was also the place holder for Kloss on field goals and extra point attempts). Marvin Kloss went 18 for 23 in field goals, including 14 of 16 from 40 yards or beyond (long of 52 yards), becoming one of the best kickers in the country. Kloss was named a finalist for the Groza award, the highest honor for a college place kicker. David Burdetsky was also the long snapper, full time, for his second straight season, bringing stability across the board for the entire unit.

Entering the 2014 season, the Bulls return everyone except for Aaron Munoz who graduated. With that, here is the returning roster for the 2014 season (no recruits were added on special teams in the 2014 recruiting class):

Kicker:

Mattias Ciabatti – 6′ 180 lbs. – Junior

Michael Hill – 5’9″ 168 lbs. – Junior

Marvin Kloss – 6′ 196 lbs. – Senior

Emilio Nadelman – 5’6″ 173 lbs. – Redshirt freshman

Long snapper:

David Burdetsky – 6’1″ 220 lbs. – Junior

Alex Salvato – 5’11’ 165 lbs. – Sophomore

Entering the 2014 season, the Bulls seem fairly set on special teams. Coach Taggart mentioned recently that the only safe job at this stage is Mattias Ciabatti (also pencil him for place holder too), but I would think that Marvin Kloss is also fairly safe as the place kicker. While Michael Hill and Emilio Nadelman have been pushing Kloss for his starting job throughout the spring, it would take a huge fall camp for either of them to unseat him as the starter. I would also pencil in David Burdetsky as the long snapper heading into the season as well. He’s been the man for the last two years and with that kind of experience, it will be hard to replace that especially with no one behind him with any experience.

My projected depth chart for 2014:

Punter: Mattias Ciabatti (place holder too)

Place kicker: Marvin Kloss

Long snapper: David Burdetsky

Grade: B+. I’m giving the unit a very high grade because of the returning experience that comes back for the 2014 season but going to rank it higher than an A. Ciabatti showed flashes last year, but also was inconsistent at at times. Kloss, as great as he was, did miss several key kicks (not all his fault) so they have the potential to get even better and I think at the end of the year, the grade should be a lot higher as the special teams unit continues to be a strength of the football team.

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