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December 23, 2009

SEC Power Poll All-SEC Team: Specialty Teams

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.

The Selections:

Punter - Drew Butler - University of Georgia
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.

Kicker - Leigh Tiffin - University of Alabama
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.

Returner - Javier Arenas - University of Alabama
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.



dave clark said...

Anyone who thinks that Tiffin > Walsh this year should stop watching football immediately. It was a joke in the all-ACC, and it's a joke here.

Yeah, we had a crummy season, but Walsh is an absolute stud. Always Missin' Tiffin is a poor, poor, poor man's Billy Bennett, nothing more. Walsh is something infinitely more special.

Again: Anyone who said with a straight face that Tiffin had a better season than Walsh should take up a different sport. Morons.

NCT said...

Hm. I'm not bitter or anything, but 90.5 > 87.9, 100 > 92.7, and 53 > 50. Alas, 13-0 > 7-5.

Mike said...

Wow, not sure how you can leave out Brandon Boykin in the conversation. I may be biased towards the Dawgs, but...not one, but TWO 100 yard kick returns. Last time I checked, he wasn't affraid to run through folks.

Ollllddude said...

I have no idea what the actual facts would show, but is there a possibility that Butler did so well because he had so many chances (or, perhaps, fewer chances but with a longer field, i.e., no reason to pooch kick). I am not lazy but have no idea how I would find out the information, and this isn't meant as a slap at Butler - it could apply to any punter in a given year. Because of the strategic nature of punting hoping to pin someone close to their goal, it just seems like stats like average distance may be misleading as to their true worth.

FisheriesDawg said...

I like the fact that every stat you listed is better for Blair over Tiffin, yet Tiffin somehow gets the nod by 6 voters. I can understand the Bama voter going for him, but who else could make that choice with a straight face?

JasonC said...

Sad to see Walsh get snubbed by Tiffin, AGAIN, when he is clearly the better kicker.

Quinton McDawg said...

I voted for the loser. I'd bet most voters just looked at the points scored stat and filled in a name.

Sam, Dawg Fan said...

Olldude, avg in a punter can be misleading as you note. Maybe some people are lazy in looking at just the avg. Return yards is another metric (although obviously has issues since you could be a great punter and a lousy coverage team would nullify it). Fair catches would be interesting or no chance to return.

Perhaps someone with a Bill James' "bent" can develop a method for analysis.

One runs into problems in a lot of areas. Even Mark Ingram's numbers can be skewered.

JasonC said...

It wasn't just this group, every group out there did the same thing: AP, SEC Coaches, ESPN, Yahoo, etc. They all just picked the guy on the best team with more FGs, but also with many more attempts.

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