Admit it: at some point in your past, when a kicker has missed a field goal or an extra point for whichever team you like, you’ve yelled at the screen “you had one job!”
Boston College’s senior kicker, Nate Freese, actually had two jobs on this Eagles team in 2013, and he was good at both of them. He helped lead Eagles special teams to better heights this season.
First, let’s talk Freese the kicker. Placekicking has been his duty since freshman year, and Boston College will miss his accuracy. This season, he was virtually perfect: 20-for-20 on field goals, and 40-for-41 on extra points. Included in the twenty made field goals was a season-long 52-yarder. Whenever the Eagles needed a kick made, he got the job done.
Then, there was Freese the punter. The punting position was open this year, and instead of giving it to the young Alex Howell, they let Freese handle all of the kicking duties. All things considered, the results were not bad: he averaged 41.7 yards per punt with a season-long of 67 yards.
What might be even better is that the Eagles’ punt coverage allowed very little in returns. Boston College was ranked 33rd this season in having allowed punt returns on average of just 5.61 yards. Kickoff returns were similarly good: the Eagles were ranked 43rd in that category, allowing an average return of 20.24 yards. Notably, Boston College allowed no special teams touchdowns.
They did, however, score one, thanks to Myles Willis’s kickoff return to the house against New Mexico State in early November.
While the Eagles’ kick and punt coverage was good, the return game (aside from the Willis touchdown and some other larger plays of note) was relatively quiet. The fair-catch signal was a common sight amongst those donned in maroon and gold this year. In the final 2013 stats, Boston College was 84th in kickoff return yards with 20.13 per, while ranking a respectable 40th in punt returns with 10.21 yards on average.
Going forward, the key component to Boston College’s special teams successes, Freese, will be gone. Steve Addazio and company can spend a great deal of calendar 2014 trying to figure out who should fill his shoes, whether or not that includes incoming recruits. The return game should be fine, with players like Myles Willis, Spiffy Evans, and other fast 2014 newcomers available for this duty.