When it comes to special teams play, depth and team speed are paramount. The Crimson Tide’s roster features plenty of both. In addition to dangerous return men and fast coverage players, you can toss in three-year starters at placekicker, punter and long snapper to complete a solid special teams unit.
Punter JK Scott is among the best in the country, though curiously missing from the Ray Guy semifinalist list. Placekicker Adam Griffith has been hot and cold, and may be the weak link on the Alabama special teams.
To get an insider’s look into the Alabama special teams, I reached out to Erik Evans from our SBN friends Roll ‘Bama Roll:
Griffith has a good leg but has missed some very manageable kicks, and as the season wore on, you could see it in his body posture and in his kicks. For the season, his 74.7% accuracy is in the middle of the pack nationally, ranking 68th. He has not been asked to kick one over 50 yards this season, so let's hope this doesn't come down to a 54-yarder as time expires; there is no telling which Adam Griffith will show up. He is very consistent on kickoffs, however, and can bury them at will (Although, Alabama's kickoff philosophy is to kick near the goal line and let the Tide's coverage speed play for a few extra yards. It has been an effective overall strategy.) If there is one person on the 85-man roster that could have benefited from a dedicated position coach, it is Griffith.
JK Scott has had another excellent season, and is second in the NCAA at 47.7 yards per punt (behind Utah's Mitch Wishnowsky 48.0 -- without the benefit of thin, mile-high air.)
The return game could be better. With Eddie Jackson's loss, Alabama is down a serious weapon. Jackson led the country in yards per return and had taken two back before his injury. Xavian Marks has worked at PR, as have Calvin Ridley and Trevon Diggs. Diggs will most likely get the nod there. Kick returners will most likely be some combination of ArDarius Stewart, Damien Harris, Trevon Diggs and Gehrig Dieter.
The return coverage has been very good, actually more consistent than last season, save an excellent 100-yard return by Tennessee's Evan Berry.