Position Analysis: Special Teams:

Coach takes time, lets punter mature

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, August 18, 2017
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema talks with punter Blake Johnson during practice Friday, July 28, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by David Gottschalk
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema talks with punter Blake Johnson during practice Friday, July 28, 2017, in Fayetteville.

The Arkansas Razorbacks' coaching staff went all the way to Long Beach, Calif., to sign punter Blake Johnson as part of the 2015 freshman class.

Special teams

KEY LOSSES P Toby Baker, PK Adam McFain, DS/H Matt Emrich

RETURNING STARTER PR Jared Cornelius (12-85 yds), KOR Deon Stewart (21-419 yds), DS Bob Decker, KO Connor Limpert

WHO’S BACK PK Cole Hedlund (5-7 FGA, 25-25 PAT), Blake Johnson (2 punts, 47 yd avg.),

WHO’S NEW PK/P Blake Mazza, H Reid Miller, H Grant Morgan, DS Jordan Silver

ANALYSIS Hedlund has been off and on the team’s No. 1 placekicker the last two seasons, but he had four kicks blocked in 2015 and has struggled with consistency. Coach Bret Bielema said Hedlund has had a strong camp. Johnson appears ready to take over as the top punter after serving as Baker’s apprentice. Cornelius is a reliable punt returner, but missed most of camp to rest a sore back. The Razorbacks are looking to improve on kickoff returns after averaging 18.6 yards last season.

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