Gator Gadgets: Special Teams Speed

I know, upon seeing the title, most of you are probably thinking Jeff Demps, Andre Debose, Chris Rainey, and a couple of years ago, Brandon James.

But I’m not talking about the returners themselves.

I’m talking about the blockers- both kinds- having speed that’s almost not even fair.

When I say the words Percy Harvin, I’ll bet that very few people ever think of special teams (well, now he returns kicks for the Vikings).

Believe it or not, he was on the punt return team.

Take the Tennessee 2008 game. Brandon James should have had to break another tackle on this punt return, but instead there was Harvin making a key block at about 4:31 on the bottom left corner of the screen.

That’s just Percy Harvin.

Notice who the first two guys to get to him to congratulate him were?

Deonte Thompson and Chris Scott.

While Scott was more unknown, Thompson is one example of a key player playing on special teams.

And although Gator fans may be pissed off at him for dropping easy balls, nobody can deny this: the kid can FLY.

But it isn’t just those two. Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey have been on the starting punt return/kick return teams ever since they were freshmen. When they weren’t returning the kicks, they were going and blocking them.

Watch 11:35 to 12:03.

They get in there quite a bit, don’t they?

One of the biggest misconceptions in football is that you want your punt/kick block team to feature all big, slow monsters. I cannot believe how many special teams coaches stack the line with 10/11 (depending on kick/punt) defensive tackles.

To those coaches: How much of a difference will it make if a 315 pound nose tackle blocks a kick rather than a 135 pound running blocks one?

The big guy might block it harder and send it farther back?


Without a doubt, you need a few nose tackles on the line to push past the offensive blockers- but not all of them!!!

Rather, you should mix it up with speed and strength.

Or, you can use players that have both.

The Gators have the speed, as we know.

The Gators also have Mickey Marroti, considered by many one of if not the best strength and conditioning coaches in all of football, from college to pro ball.

See where I’m going?

Like I’ve said all along, Florida attracts more speed than positive charges attract negative charges.

And as I’m sure most of you know, special teams was the precious baby of Urban Meyer. The special teams players ate first, got their rings first, got first choice of seats on planes and buses, etc.

Plus, the team that blocks a kick or a punt wins the game 93% of the time.

How do you get to the kick?

All around speed.

How do you get all around speed?

Be the Florida Gators.

4 thoughts on “Gator Gadgets: Special Teams Speed

  1. Yes without a doubt speed kills, and that’s what our special teams are all about. Great post Neil.

  2. Florida definitely has a lot of speed and Demps is the real deal, but Florida players have a tendency to have their speed exaggerated, as though 0.2 of a second is automatically shaved off their 40 time simply because they are from the state of Florida.

    A perfect example is Rainey – we kept hearing how there was a debate between who was faster – Rainey, Demps, Harvin and Noel Devine 9WV) – and how Rainey supposedly beat Demps, Harvin and Devine.

    Does anyone actually really believe that ?

    Harvin was quick and fast. Devine quick and fast. Demps fast, not quick. Rainey………….all I’ve ever seen from him is elusiveness, and that’s about it.

    Then I watch the Florida receivers who supposedly have this world class speed and they’re incapable of getting separation.

    To me the whole “Speed” thing is a psychological warfare tactic – the skill players in the SEC are no faster than anywhere else. The only time speed becomes a factor is when it comes to the beasts – LBs, linemen, safeties. That’s where the real “SEC Speed” is.

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