FAYETTEVILLE — With two games remaining in the regular season the Razorback special teams are still a work in progress.
Each unit has had some very good moments this season, but also some not-so-great happenings as well. Sam Pittman talked about special teams on Monday and how they performed in a 27-24 loss to LSU.
“(Reid) Bauer did a really good punting the ball,” Pittman said. “He gets rid of it. Did a nice job. Had a good average. Not a lot of return yards. Vito (Calvaruso), I believe he kicked every kick out of the end zone, so he’s certainly playing with more consistency.
“On the blocked field goal, we stepped inside, we hinged. We don’t teach that and we did it for whatever reason and the guy came off and he tipped the ball.”
That was a 44-yard field goal attempt by AJ Reed that would have tied the game. Another area of the special teams really had Pittman not pleased on Monday. Reed is 7 of 11 on field goals with a long of 48 yards against Tennessee. His misses have been from 44, 21, 48 and 49 yards. He is 23 of 24 on point after touchdowns.
When Reed missed the 21-yarder against Tennessee, a reporter asked Pittman why he sent him back out for the 48-yard attempt which he made?
“Because I knew he’d make it,” Pittman said. “You know, if you give up on a kicker, you might as well just go for it all the time. I told him, I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got the ultimate confidence in you. I know you’re going to make the next one,’ and he did. It was huge by the way, putting up up 11. I’ve got confidence in him because I see him every day at practice, and I’m sure he appreciates that. I appreciate him. He did a nice job.”
On kickoffs, Calvaruso has been very good for the Hogs. He has kicked off 38 times with 27 touchbacks and three out of bounds. Reed kicked off four times with one going out of bounds.
The Razorbacks have used three punters. Bauer, George Caratan and Sam Loy have all punted in games. Bauer has averaged 44.6 yards on 28 punts with a long of 62 and eight inside the 20. Caratan is averaging 45.4 yards on 16 punts with a long of 57 and four inside the 20, but he also had two blocked. Loy has punted five times for an average of 35.2 yards, long of 44 and one inside the 20.
“We have to field punts,” Pittman said. “We have to put somebody back there that’s going to field the punt. You can look at it however you want. We lost 39 yards in letting the punt land. Whether we return it a yard or not, if we just catch the ball that’s plus 39 yards. So we have to get our punt returner in the right position and we have to catch the football. That’s on that.”
This season, the Razorbacks have only returned two punts. Treylon Burks had a return for four yards and Nathan Parodi had negative-one yard on his lone return.
Pittman then summed up special teams in general.
“So we are getting better in some aspects of special teams and we didn’t play well in some aspects,” Pittman said.