Complete Guide to Special Teams

Front Cover
Human Kinetics, 2005 - Sports & Recreation - 254 pages
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Win the all-important kicking game, every game! Complete Guide to Special Teams provides the tactical insights for gaining an advantage in every facet of the crucial third component of championship squads:


-Kickoff returns

-Extra points

-Two-point conversions


-Punt returns

-Field goals

-Punt and field goal blocks

In addition, this comprehensive guide presents detailed technique instruction for kickers, punters, long snappers, field goal and extra point kickers and holders, kickoff and punt returners, and other specialized positions related to the kicking game. Chapters on the development of special team units and players highlight the best practice drills and key teaching points for success.

Complete Guide to Special Teams is the authoritative resource on the kicking game for coaches and players. Created by the American Football Coaches Association, this guide could spell the difference in the outcome of several games each season.


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Complete guide to special teams

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Bearing the imprimatur of the American Football Coaches Association, this authoritative instructional coaching manual focuses on a part of football that is often neglected: the kicking game. The book ... Read full review




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About the author (2005)

Don Nehlen, the winningest football coach in West Virginia University's history, served as the Mountaineers' head coach from 1980 to 2000 and posted a 149-93-4 record. Nehlen's career record of 202-138-8 (including nine seasons as head coach at Bowling Green from 1968 to 1976) made him one of only 17 coaches in NCAA history to record 200 wins. Taking WVU to 13 bowl games and 17 winning seasons, Nehlen coached 15 first team All-Americans, 82 all-conference players, six first team Academic All-Americans, and 80 players who went on to professional football. He received Coach of the Year honors from numerous groups and was the unanimous choice as the 1993 Big East Coach of the Year. A member of the Mid-American Conference, Bowling Green, and Gator Bowl halls of fame, Nehlen has a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green and a master's degree from Kent State. A native of Canton, Ohio, Nehlen and his wife, Merry Ann, have two children and five grandchildren.

Bill Mallory is Indiana University's winningest football coach, having compiled a 69-77-3 record in his 13-year tenure as head coach. While compiling a 165-121-4 record at Miami (Ohio), Colorado, Northern Illinois, and Indiana, Mallory became one of only a handful of coaches in history to guide three different programs to top 20 finishes in national polls. In 1987, Mallory became the first coach to be awarded back-to-back Big Ten Coach of the Year honors. While at Indiana, Mallory led the Hoosiers to six bowl games, including victories in the 1998 Liberty Bowl and the 1991 Copper Bowl. He also led IU to a top 20 ranking in 1988.

Ron Bernard Aiken has been defensive line coach at the University of Iowa since 1999. In 2002 he was named the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division I Assistant Coach of the Year. Iowa's rushing defense has ranked second in the Big Ten in each of the past three years. Early in his career, Aiken also gained experience in coaching the offensive line and serving as a special teams coordinator. While playing guard and center at North Carolina A&T, Aiken earned all-conference honors. He has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in secondary education from the Citadel.

Joe DeForest has been the special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach at Oklahoma State University since 2001. Under his watch, OSU's national rankings rose from 73rd to 10th in net punting, from 67th to 12th in punt returns, and from 92nd to 3rd in kickoff returns. A 13-year coaching veteran, DeForest spent seven seasons at Duke where he was special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach. The Blue Devils finished the 2000 campaign as the 6th best team in the nation in net punting and 15th best in kickoff returns. Prior to his coaching career, DeForest played two seasons of professional football in the Canadian Football League.

Lester Erb has been a wide receiver and special teams coach at the University of Iowa since 2000. Under his tutelage, the Hawkeyes' special teams have ranked among the best in the nation: second in the Big Ten in kickoff returns and third in punt returns in 2003; they have also set a school record with five blocked punts. After gaining experience on the Syracuse and Hobart College football staffs, Erb spent two seasons as the offensive quality control coach for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens and was tight ends coach on the Army staff. Erb was a standout receiver at Bucknell University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in business administration. He also holds a master's degree in higher education administration from Syracuse.

Bud Foster is one of the nation's most respected defensive coaches, helping build Virginia Tech into one of the hardest-hitting defensive units in college football. Having coached at Tech since 1987, Foster has helped mold nationally ranked defenses on a yearly basis. His success made him a two-time finalist for the coveted Broyles Award, presented annually to the nation's top assistant football coach. He was also recognized as the 2000 Division I-A Defensive Coordinator of the Year by American Football Coach magazine. During his tenure, Foster has coached two All-Americans and six others who have earned All-Big East Conference honors.

John Harbaugh is the special teams coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. His units finished the 2003 season ranked first in the NFL in the articulate special teams ranking system by the Dallas Morning News. In 2001, Harbaugh's peers voted him as the league's Special Teams Coach of the Year. Harbaugh began his coaching career in 1984 at Western Michigan, spent eight seasons as assistant coach at the University of Cincinnati (1989 to 1996), and joined the Indiana University staff as defensive backs and special teams coach in the 1997 season.

Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Hays has coached three All-Western Athletic Conference Mountain division kickers and all time school leaders in nearly every kicking category. A graduate of the USAF Academy, he has a master's degree in biology and kinesiology from the University of Texas and has also worked as a biology professor and aerospace physiologist through assignments in the United States Air Force.

Steve Kidd is the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Rice University in Houston, Texas. Kidd has developed a succession of quality performers on special teams, some of whom have gone on to the NFL draft; earned all-WAC honors; and established new school records in kicking, punting, field goal percentages, and extra points. Kidd ended his own collegiate career at Rice with records in career punting average and the highest game average, as well as the best average for a season. In 1993, Kidd was inducted into the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame.

Bill Legg was named the offensive line coach at Purdue University in March 2003. He came to the Boilermakers from Marshall, where he served as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator (2001 to 2002). In both years the Thundering Herd ranked third in the nation in total offense, compiling a 21-4 record and winning two bowl games. Previously, Legg was the interior offensive line coach at his alma mater, West Virginia, where he enjoyed a successful playing career as a four-year starting center and participated in four consecutive bowl games. Legg holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in education.

Bill Lynch is the head football coach at DePauw University and holds a career record of 73-65-3 over 13 seasons. He served as the head coach of Ball State's football program from 1995 to 2002, during which time his teams won the 1996 Mid-American Conference title, participated in the Las Vegas Bowl, and finished as co-champions of the MAC West Division in 2001. Lynch was head coach at Butler, his alma mater, for five seasons, where his teams compiled a 36-12-3 record. He was named the Heartland Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year three times, earned two Regional Coach of the Year honors from the AFCA, and directed the 1988 team to the NCAA Division II playoffs.

Greg McMahon came to the University of Illinois in 1992 and has coached the Illini special teams and tight ends since 1997. McMahon's kickers have averaged over 12 field goals per season and have connected on an impressive 188 of 191 extra points (.984). Under McMahon's guidance, Illinois' tight ends have accounted for an average of 20 catches, 200 yards, and 3 touchdowns a year. Before joining the U of I, McMahon spent two seasons coaching offensive tackles and tight ends at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. He also spent time at Valdosta State, Southern Illinois, North Alabama, and Minnesota. McMahon earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from Eastern Illinois University in 1983 after playing four seasons as a defensive back for the Panthers.

Urban Meyer is the only coach in Utah's 110-year football history to win a conference championship in his first year. In 2003, The Sporting News named Meyer National Coach of the Year after he led the Utes to a 10-2 record, their first outright conference championship since 1957, a bowl victory, and a final national ranking of 21. Meyer's special teams led the nation in kick return average and ranked second in the league in kickoff coverage. Meyer began his head coaching career at Bowling Green in 2001, where he engineered the biggest turnaround in NCAA Division I-A football.

Brian Polian is the University of Central Florida's recruiting coordinator and running backs coach. Before joining the Golden Knights, he served three years at Buffalo as the running backs and special teams coach. He previously coached at Buffalo during the 1998 season when he served as tight ends and assistant offensive line coach. Before joining UB, Polian served as the offensive graduate assistant at Michigan State as the Spartans finished 24th in the nation and played in the Aloha Bowl. Polian also spent two seasons at Baylor University, where his duties included coaching the strongside linebackers and co-coordinating special teams.

Joe Robinson is the special teams coordinator and defensive ends coach at the University of Arizona. He has more than a decade of experience as either a recruiting or special teams coordinator. His 2003 special teams units at Central Florida ranked second in the nation with a 41.9 net punting average. Previously, he helped the Houston Cougars lead Conference USA in net punting and coached special teams at Southern Mississippi, which led the nation in kick returns in 1997.

Robin Ross is an assistant coach at the University of Oregon, overseeing the special teams and tight ends unit. In 2003, his teams ranked second in the Pac-10 in punt returns. His 2002 special teams were the only squads in the league to rank in the top 20 nationally in punts, kickoffs, and kickoff returns, while Duck punters led the Pac-10 and ranked 10th nationally in net punting. The 27-year coaching veteran has played a role in special teams in each of his last five coaching stops, including a two-year stint at Western Washington from 1994 to 1995. The Vikings were 17-4 during Ross' two seasons, leading the nation in scoring defense in 1994 and serving as the NAIA's top-ranked team for five weeks in 1995.

Mike Sabock is the defensive ends coach and recruiting coordinator for Northern Illinois University, where he has also served as the Huskies' defensive backs coach and linebackers and special teams coordinator since arriving there in 1984. He was previously an assistant defensive backfield coach at Penn State University under the legendary Joe Paterno in 1983. His Ohio prep coaching stops included Alliance and Youngstown Austin Fitch high schools. Sabock was a two-time All-Ohio Athletics Conference pick at Baldwin-Wallace college, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in health and physical education. He went on to earn a master's degree in athletic administration from Kent State University in 1981.

Dave Ungerer, a coaching veteran of 21 college seasons, is a special teams and tight ends coach for the University of Alabama. In 2003, Alabama special teams produced three touchdowns from kick and punt returns (most in the SEC) and five blocked kicks. Ungerer also coached tight ends and special teams at California, finishing 2002 ranked first in kickoff returns and fifth nationally in punt returns. His special teams also accounted for six plays of 50 yards or more that season. Ungerer lettered four years as running back at Southern Connecticut State, where he received his bachelor's degree in physical education and health.

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