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2011 BCS Champ. Pos. Breakdown - Spec. Teams
Oregon CB Cliff Harris
Oregon CB Cliff Harris
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 7, 2011


The position-by-position breakdown of the 2011 BCS Championship - Special Teams

2011 BCS Champ. Breakdown

Auburn vs. Oregon - Special Teams

- CFN 2011 BCS Championship Preview  
- CFN 2009 BCS Championship Breakdown - Florida vs. Oklahoma   
- CFN 2010 BCS Championship Breakdown - Alabama vs. Texas

CFN 2011 BCS CHAMPIONSHIP POSITION BREAKDOWN

- Quarterbacks | Running Backs
- Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defensive Lines | Linebackers
- Secondaries | Special Teams | Coaches

By Pete Fiutak

Auburn: The Tigers aren't awful on special teams, but this is hardly a strength. Senior PK Wes Byrum doesn't have a cannon for a leg, but it's good enough to be used on a regular basis from inside 50 yards. Most importantly, he has been around forever, is used to the wars of the tight SEC battles, and isn't likely to be rattled if he has to come up with a big kick. He nailed 15-of-16 shots last year, with the one miss a 46-yarder, and he was fine this year hitting 15-of-20 field goals but with four of his misses coming inside the 40. His range tops out at just inside the 50. The punting game isn't used much with a mere 37 kicks this season, one coming from Cam Newton, and veteran Ryan Shoemaker isn't going be a difference maker. He only averages 39 yards per kick, but he's terrific at hanging the ball up in the air and forcing fair catches. The punt return game is mediocre with Quindarius Carr averaging 5.7 yards per try, but Demond Washington, who was phenomenal last year, had a good year returning kicks averaging 25 yards per pop. The coverage teams are solid. Shoemaker doesn't allow punt returns with opponents averaging just 5.5 yards per try, while the kickoff return team allows fewer than 20 yards per try.

Oregon
: Auburn's special teams aren't awful, but they're not a particular strength. However, the punt coverage team is strong ranking 19th in the nation. Will that neutralize the nation's leading punt return game? The Ducks average a whopping 18.19 yards per try, a massive half yard more than the No. 2 team, Utah, with five touchdowns. Corner Cliff Harris has four of the scores, averaging 19.5 yards per return, while backup running back Kenjon Barner averages 15.9 yards per try with a score. The kickoff return team is average by comparison, but it's not bad averaging 21.9 yards per try, while the coverage team is fantastic allowing just 19.3 yards per kickoff return. Unlike Auburn with Wes Byrum, who only seems like he's been kicking for the Tigers since Bo Jackson was around, Oregon's kickers are green. Sophomore Rob Beard hasn't needed to make a clutch kick yet, but he has been decent making 9-of-12 chances, while true freshman Eric Solis has been given a few chances from short range making 3-of-4 shots. Like Auburn, Oregon doesn't have to deal with the punting game too often, but Jackson Rice is fantastic at pinning teams deep with 17 of his 35 kicks going inside the 20. He doesn't have a booming leg, but it's an accurate one.

ADVANTAGE: Oregon … but only because of Harris. Auburn has the advantage at placekicker because of Byrum's experience, but the key to the special teams, and the game, might hinge on Shoemaker. If he can't hang it up a mile high, or put his punts out of bounds, Harris could change the game around. The Tigers have to do everything humanly possible not to let No. 13 get the ball in his hands. Overall, the punting game might not be a factor since field position is almost meaningless to the two offenses.

CFN 2011 BCS CHAMPIONSHIP POSITION BREAKDOWN

- Quarterbacks | Running Backs
- Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defensive Lines | Linebackers
- Secondaries | Special Teams | Coaches


















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