Pitt Positional Preview: DB’s And Special Teams

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Sep 5, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Tyler Boyd (23) fair catches a punt against the Boston College Eagles during the second half at Alumni Stadium. Pitt won 30-20 over Boston College. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The players contributing on special teams

Special teams is the position where the Panthers have an excess of tremendous options. First and foremost is Tyler Boyd.

Need we say more about Boyd and his ability with the ball in his hands? Last season Boyd was phenomenally consistent in the return game. He ranked tenth nationally averaging 27.6 yards per return off the tee and ranked 21st nationally with a 10.1 yard average off the punters foot. Although he wasn’t able to find the endzone, he was a model of consistency and security in that facet.

Offering field position and a burst the team desperately needs at times, he should pick up where he left off after serving his one game suspension against Youngstown State, week one.

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As I mentioned before, Avonte Maddox should be a continued difference-maker for Pitt. He found a nice place in the return game last season as he averaged just shy of 20 yards per return off the tee and had a long punt return of 35 yards. Maddox is what the Panthers need as a returner.

Like Boyd, he secures the ball and makes sure to head north and not east-or-west and finds the holes in the wedge to break a big play in an undervalued part of the game(unless you’re Frank Beamer).

If for any reason an injury should occur or the need to explore other options arises, Pitt can easily fill that void. Quadree Henderson(wide receiver), Jordan Whitehead, Darrin Hall(running back), and newcomer Rafael Araujo-Lopes(wide receiver) could all take the reins and run with the opportunity as a returner.

Running with that opportunity is what Pitt needs in such a crucial and understated phase of the game. Returning kicks and punts has the potential to kick-start a team into finding a needed groove. If the offense can barely budge the defense and the defense can force the ball back or give up points, a simple momentum gainer of twenty or more yards could be all a team needs to get on the board and I like Pitt’s ability to do that very thing.

Next: Can Pitt avoid the upset blues against Youngstown State?