April 5, 2008

Practice Insider: Special look at special teams

Some call it one-third of the game, others don't consider the guys a real part of the team. It's special teams; often neglected, always important and now, more than ever, a pressing concern for the University of Southern California football team.

Departed senior Will Collins is proving more valuable than ever as the hole that he left as the team's long snapper has created an inconsistency in special teams that the Pete Carroll era has never seen.

"We have no experienced guys out here at all so we need to find somebody who has a knack for it," said head coach Pete Carroll. "It's a tryout camp right now, so we need to get some guys out here.

Carroll and the coaching staff have experiment with a number of guys currently on the roster, including Cooper Stevenson, Mike Reardon and most recently Trey Henderson.

"We're going to need a lot of reps under pressure to get it right," he said. "I don't like it because we've had such great experience with the transition over the years.

"We thought some things would happen with guys coming in and it hasn't happened yet, we'll get it worked out and we've got plenty of time."

One player that catches the recently errant snaps is Greg Woidneck, USC's incumbent punter, who also recognizes the struggles.

"Obviously it's a big part of the game," Woidneck said from Howard Jones Field Friday. "With Will (Collins) being gone now people are starting to recognize what an impact that special teams actually plays.

"I'm sure everything will turn around because we've been working hard in the spring, as well as coming out here two or three times a week by ourselves.

"I know the coaches are frustrated with the whole operation, but as far as I'm concerned it's just lack of experience."

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