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2010 Indiana Hoosiers Football preview: special teams.

The series of position-by-position preview posts ends with this one.  I haven’t had much to say yet about Towson for a couple of reasons.  First, I wanted to finish the preview and there are only so many hours in the day.  Second, the news coverage for FCS teams doesn’t match that given even to MAC schools, let alone schools from major conferences.  Finally, neither team has played a game since I previewed the Tigers last month.  Still, I will have some more Towson content tomorrow.  Then, IU enters a 16 day layoff, but I expect to fall into a more normal game week pattern for the Western Kentucky game.  But I digress:

PK: Nick Freeland, sophomore. was IU’s placekicker last year, and he was good from short range but was a non-entity from long range.  Freeland was 5-7 from 20-29 yards, 9-12 from 30-39 yards, but was 0-5 from 40 or longer.  That’s right: IU did not score a single field goal last season that was 40 yards or longer.  I haven’t watched practice and I have no reason to believe that the coaching staff wouldn’t play the best man for the job, but I’m really surprised that redshirt freshman Mitch Ewald hasn’t taken the job from Freeland.  Ewald was, as far as kickers go, a blue chip recruit.  He was ranked in the top 5 among all kickers nationally by ESPN and Scout, and was the #27 prospect overall in Illinois.  Here’s what Bill Lynch said in his press conference last Friday:

"At placekicker, it is unbelievable. We have charted every kick that (Nick) Freeland and (Mitch) Ewald have made since we started and the stats are phenomenally close, so we're not ready to declare who that guy is going to be either, which is good. Sometimes you think `they can't make a decision,' but when you're letting guys compete, I'm going to let them compete all the way up to the middle of the week. I don't think it makes a difference to declare now, because I want to keep it all going."

Certainly, this indicates that the job is far from locked down, so Ewald still may end up as the starter, but again, it’s hard to believe that it’s such a competition. 
P: Chris Hagerup, junior.  Hagerup enters his third season as IU’s punter.  After finishing #22 nationally as a redshirt freshman in 2008, his average dipped a bit last year, but he still ranks fairly high in school history and should be a solid presence, although I hope he plays very infrequently. 

Who’s gone?

Ray Fisher.  The WR turned DB was a solid kick returner and is trying to hold on with the Colts, as I mentioned yesterday.  He ran a kick back for a touchdown against Akron last year.

Who’s new?

Nick Turner, the backup running back, will be returning kicks for IU this year.  The return positions are in flux.  Tandon Doss may return some, but he isn’t playing tomorrow.  Darius Willis is playing and is healthy, but he has been removed from the KR depth chart (permanently, I hope).