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Opponent special teams preview: Arizona

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How do the Wildcats’ specialists stack up?

Arizona v BYU Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

For the third consecutive week, the Huskies will face a team with an excellent kicking game, but while Arizona has some talented return men in J.J. Taylor, Nate Phillips and Tyrell Johnson, they have yet to make a significant impact in any of the team’s first three games.

Depth Chart:

Overall, Arizona’s special teams have been effective so far this season. Per S&P+, the Wildcats rank 17th in FBS on special teams, largely due to the kicking game. Redshirt sophomore Josh Pollack handles both punting and field goal duties for the Wildcats, and he’s been lights-out so far. He’s been successful on all PATs, has made all of his sub-50-yard field goals, and is averaging 47.3 yards per punt (including booming four punts over 50 yards). Opponents have only been able to return three of Pollack’s 12 punts so far, but one of those was run back 27 yards by BYU.

Redshirt sophomore kickoff specialist Edgar Gastelum has recorded nine touchbacks on his 19 kickoffs so far this season, and opponents are averaging just over 20 yards per return.

The Arizona return game hasn’t been consistent so far in 2015. J.J. Taylor, Nate Phillips, and Shun Brown have each fielded punts for the Wildcats so far this season, with Taylor (22 yards) and Phillips (18 yards) each breaking a single decent return. Other than those two runbacks, Arizona return men have averaged barely over a yard per punt return.

Speedster Tyrell Johnson handles kickoff returns, and while he can be dangerous in the return game, he hasn’t had much success this season. Arizona has some electric players, but with such a small sample size so far this year, they haven’t been able to get much going on returns.