As fans, we all know the feeling. It's a big moment in a big game. Your special teams unit trots onto the field, and at the same time a sinking feeling overwhelms you. You've watched this team all year, and you know what they're capable of...and it's terrifying.
Let's look at the top 25 teams in the F/+ ratings and where they might have some weaknesses in special teams. Does your team allow kickoff returns destined for #SCTop10? Does everyone in your section queue up a #collegekickers tweet when your kicker starts practicing kicks into net? This post is for you.
Before we get to the data, let's take a look at each of the special teams categories. All of this is from Brian Fremeau (@bcfremeau) and his special teams ratings over at Football Outsiders.
- STE: Special Teams Efficiency, the composite of all of the items listed below. It's a measure of how good your team's special teams unit is as a whole.
- FGE: Field Goal Efficiency, the scoring value per field goal attempt earned by the field goal unit as measured against national success rates.
- PRE: Punt Return Efficiency, the scoring value per opponent punt earned by the receiving team as measured against national return rates.
- KRE: Kickoff Return Efficiency, the scoring value per opponent kickoff earned by the receiving team as measured against national return rates.
- PE: Punt Efficiency, the scoring value per punt earned by the opponent's receiving team as measured against national return rates.
- KE: Kickoff Efficiency, the scoring value per kickoff earned by the opponent's receiving team as measured against national return rates.
Just about every team has a weakness in some category. Everyone except for...(sigh)...Alabama. Bama is top 10 in every category. Ohio State is the only other team on this list that can say they are in the top 40 in every category.
This week's Iron Bowl features STE #1 Alabama versus STE #4 Auburn. Between the two teams, the only real weakness might be Auburn's kickoff team (#81).
Florida State has some issues on special teams: #60 overall, and a serious weakness in punting (#120).
Aside from field goals, South Carolina is a bit of a train wreck when it comes to special teams. They are no better than 75th in any other category, and they are so bad in kickoff returns (#125) I'd almost be afraid to score.
These teams are on this top 25 list because they are good, but if you happen to have one of these programs left on your schedule this season, you have reason to hope...everyone has a weakness*.
* Except Alabama.