New approach to punting works

Published September 24, 2006

LAWRENCE, Kan. - USF entered Saturday's game last of 119 Division I-A schools in net punting, so it was clear a change was in order.

The Bulls allowed quarterback Matt Grothe to quick-kick once for the second game in a row, then turned to their third punter in four games. The Bulls had outstanding results.

A unique special-teams tweak had kickoff specialist Justin Teachey lining up at punter and using a rugby-style kick, taking two steps to his right and booting a rolling kick.

"I could have kicked the ball a little better, but I got some pretty good rolls," said Teachey, who averaged 45.2 yards on four punts.

When Grothe came out to quick-kick on fourth and 11 from the Kansas 43, the Jayhawks burned a timeout. When Teachey appeared, Kansas was flagged for illegal procedure, then Grothe hit a pooch punt out of bounds at the Kansas 5.

Teachey's punting debut came on the next drive, with a 45-yarder to the Kansas 2. His next kick, a 47-yarder, was compounded by a block-in-the-back penalty against Kansas. In the fourth quarter, Teachey added a 47-yard punt with no return.

USF had used freshman punters Ilia Petrov and Delbert Alvarado in its first three games, but both had troubles with snaps that resulted in opponent touchdowns.

The changeup resulted in a net average of 41.8 yards Saturday, more than 15 yards better than Kansas averaged.

THIRD-DOWN WOES: The Jayhawks went 8-of-11 on third-down conversions in the first half with quarterback Adam Barmann completing seven passes of 11 yards or longer on third down.

The Jayhawks, however, were scoreless in the first half because of two third-down turnovers. Receiver Dexton Fields was hit by three USF players at the goal line and fumbled, and Barmann fumbled at the USF 31 with 46 seconds left in the half.

WELCOME BACK: A familiar face was on the USF sideline at Memorial Stadium - Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Kawika Mitchell.

Mitchell, the Bulls' highest draft pick ever (47th overall in 2003), said he was happy to catch the game.

"I've known since the offseason that the (Chiefs') bye week was the same time as the game," said Mitchell, Kansas City's leading tackler in 2005. "I've been looking forward to coming out here for a long time."

Mitchell also said he worked out this summer with USF's three starting linebackers, Ben Moffitt, Patrick St. Louis and Stephen Nicholas, who played his first season at USF with Mitchell in 2002.

"I want them to know they can call me for anything, because I want to stay in touch as much as possible," Mitchell said.

MORE FIRSTS: Junior defensive end Jarriett Buie (Armwood) made his first career start. Senior tackle Thed Watson (Lakewood) and sophomore safety Carlton Williams made their first starts of the season.

Defensive tackle Aaron Harris became the sixth true freshman to play this season.