All the SEC Power Poll voters banded together to select an All-SEC team this year. Team Speed Kills coordinated the effort. Today, the Georgia Sports Blog is happy to unveil the special teams selection. It's appropriate considering the Dawgs have a unanimous selection. Other selections can be found here.
I also confess that I bestow a special reverence on kickers. There are three reasons. First, a good kick is difficult to appreciate on TV, but it is a beautiful thing when viewed live. Placekicks explode past the line to begin slowly tumbling toward the goalposts. Punts look like artillery fire, driving and spinning into the night air and hanging aloft until slowing descending into a chaotic punt return.
Second, kickers and returners are important. Special teams can completely change a game with a long punt or a big return. A good field goal kicker takes pressure off an offense if they know they'll get three points for getting to the 35.
Lastly, it's not something I can do. I feel confident that I could rush five times in a college game (for no or negative yardage), throw a screen pass, catch a ball if wide open, or make contact on a runner at the line of scrimmage. I can also confidently state that there is no hope of me or any of you punting a ball 40 yards with a four second hangtime or kicking a 35 yard field goal. If I tried to return a punt in an SEC game, not only would I not catch the ball, it's possible that I would die if I did from either the force of the ball or the hit I would take from onrushing defenders.
This was a unanimous pick and you can see why. He led the nation in average at 48.84 yards per kick. Second place was more than three full yards lower. Butler won the Ray Guy Award for the nation's top punter and is only a sophomore. He also booted the eighth longest punt this year with a whopping 75 yarder.
Tiffin, once a joke for missing kicks in Fayetteville his freshman year, led kickers nationally in field goal kicks made. He converted 87.9% of his field goals, 92.7% on extra points, and hit from a long of 50 yards. With Bama's dominating defense, the offense could afford to stay physical, grinding, conservative and methodical because if something went wrong, Tiffin was there to tack on three points. The guy got his opportunities and converted. He led the poll with six votes.
Also receiving votes: Blair Walsh (Georgia) - Hit 19 kicks for 90.5% accuracy, long of 53, and was perfect on PATs. 5 votes. \ Wes Byrum (Auburn) - Converted 14 kicks for 93.3%, hit from a long of 49, and was perfect on extra points. 1 vote.
Arenas looked like your big brother playing kill the man with you and your friends. The first guy never brought him down and he usually ran through at least one more tackle before going down. He wasn't as fast as Trindon Holliday or Brandon James, but he was the most consistently frightening returner this year. He led with nine votes.
Also receiving votes: Warren Norman (Vanderbilt) - Norman got a bunch of opportunities at Vandy and led the conference with over a thousand kickoff return yards and three TDs. He got 2.5 votes. \ Dennis Johnson (Arkansas) - Like Norman, Johnson had over a thousand kickoff return yards. He also had a touchdown return for 91 yards.