The Norman Transcript

Sports

August 20, 2009

Sooners believe their specialists will be improved across the board

When Jimmy Stevens was asked the biggest kick he made last season, the sophomore couldn’t come up with a typical pressure kick. All 12 of the Sooners’ wins came by at least 14 points. There were no opportunities for him to play the hero.

Instead, he thought it was one late in the first half of OU’s 66-28 victory over Texas A&M.;

“If I didn’t make that one, I probably wouldn’t have kicked the rest of the season,” he said.

Stevens admits now his confidence suffered throughout his first season as OU’s kicker. He made 8-of-12 attempts and a season long of just 42 yards. It wasn’t the breakout season he planned.

“I kept telling myself throughout the season I was good enough to be here,” Stevens said. “If I wasn’t, then I wouldn’t be here.”

The kicker’s struggles mirrored OU’s special teams last season. Anything involving them putting a foot on the ball, was a struggle.

The punt unit finished 85th in the country in net punting. The kick coverage unit allowed four returns for a touchdown.

It’s why special teams was given added emphasis in the offseason and has been stressed heavily in the preseason.

“I spent more time during the off time studying other people, seeing what they do and what we can do better scheme wise and with personnel,” special teams coordinator Chris Wilson said. “It’s been one of the big things we’ve focused on. Coach Stoops and the rest of our staff have really focused on it.”

The talent is there for the Sooners’ special teams to once again be special. The return game has some great talent with wide receiver Ryan Broyles and cornerback Dominique Franks both back. Each has shown the ability to change games with the ball in their hands.

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