BYH, when there is a solar energy spill, it's just called a NICE DAY. (this one has better wording than the other one I...

Different approaches to special teams

Temple SMU Football
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SMU safety/punter Trevor Denbow (16) punts the ball during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Temple in Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde)


The Daily Reflector

Friday, November 8, 2019

Special teams has been a bright spot for an East Carolina football team still stuck at three wins, while SMU has built an 8-1 record despite inconsistency and an unconventional approach to kicking.

A costly play in the Mustangs' 54-48 loss at Memphis last week was Antonio Gibson's 97-yard kickoff return to begin the second half for Memphis. Gibson finished with 386 all-purpose yards for the most by any player in the country this season.

But most notable about the Mustangs' kicking units is that starting safety Trevor Denbow serves also their starting punter. He uses a line-drive, rugby-style kick, and even starting quarterback Shane Buechele sometimes elects to pooch punt.

"Early in the year they were using a traditional punter, but I think it comes down to a very good football coach (Sonny Dykes) finding creative ways to give his team an opportunity," said ECU coach Mike Houston, whose team plays at SMU on Saturday. "The scheme they are using puts some stress on you. You have to be careful with that low, line-drive punt. You don't want the ball bouncing off somebody's back or helmet and then it's a live ball and you turn it over."

Denbow, who is fifth on the team in tackles, is averaging 39.1 yards per punt. Five have traveled at least 50 yards.

For ECU, junior kicker Jake Verity is 19-for-23 on field goals for another standout campaign as a Lou Groza Award semifinalist. Jonn Young is averaging 41 yards per punt.

Tyler Snead is the Pirates' lead return man on kickoffs and punts, most notably returning a kick 100 yards for a touchdown two weeks ago against South Florida. He also had a long return versus N.C. State nullified by a penalty.

Dykes said not kicking it far enough for touchbacks has been part of the problem with SMU's kickoff return coverage.

"It's something that has been an issue for us," he said. "When you are kicking off as much as we are -- eight or nine times a game -- you have to do a good job covering. Right now we are struggling to have enough depth to be able to do that effectively. ... It made a difference in the game (versus Memphis), so we have to get that improved."

SMU's overall tendency for high-scoring contests affects all of its defensive and special teams units. Pirate offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick said ECU is expecting to see an aggressive SMU squad.

"They play the style of defense that fits their style of offense," Kirkpatrick said. "They have a lot of takeaways and a lot of tackles for loss. They probably go against each other a lot (in practice), and they are probably very good at the pass rush because I understand they throw it very well. The other thing and an issue that causes trouble is they play a lot of guys."

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


November 12, 2019

East Carolina basketball's road-heavy start to the season continues tonight against Appalachian State.

It is the first in-state opponent for ECU, which beat Virginia Military Institute a week ago and then lost Friday night at Navy, 62-57. App. State also is 1-1.

East Carolina at Appalachian State,…


November 12, 2019

Ninety-four points, zero wins.

East Carolina’s football team was dealt that harsh reality in its first two games of November, scoring 43 in a three-point loss to Cincinnati at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and then on Saturday producing even more points — 51 — but also allowing more in a…

E Carolina SMU Football

November 11, 2019

SMU quarterback Shane Buechele had options on the final offensive play Saturday to finish off a 59-51 win against East Carolina.

It was fourth-and-3 with 55 seconds remaining at the Pirate 39-yard line. ECU had already taken its final timeout, and SMU then called a timeout after shifting to a pooch…

E Carolina SMU Football

November 11, 2019

Let's expand this exercise, for one week, to include South Carolina. The Battle for The Carolinas.

Clemson, obviously, would be No. 1. South Carolina would be fourth thanks to its win over Georgia.

No. 2? Appalachian State, which would own road victories over No. 3 North Carolina and fourth-ranked…

Louisiana-Monroe No. 24 Appalachian State Football

November 11, 2019


Tucked in a super clean and sometimes sleepy nook in Dallas is the campus at SMU, a private school that has stirred to life this fall behind a nationally ranked football team that provides excitement for its tidy, polite fan base with a fun-to-watch, prolific offense and an outside-the-box…

E Carolina SMU Football

November 09, 2019

DALLAS — East Carolina competed for four quarters against a ranked team for the second straight week, yet a similar feeling and still winless this season in the American Athletic Conference after a 59-51 defeat to No. 23 SMU.

Here are three answers from the game:

1. How many passing…

E Carolina SMU Football

November 09, 2019

DALLAS — Tyler Snead, all 5-foot-7 and 167 pounds of him, chased and nearly grabbed NCAA history Saturday afternoon at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in East Carolina football's 59-51 loss at SMU.

Snead’s 19 receptions were four shy of tying the single-game national record and three away from…

E Carolina SMU Football

November 09, 2019

DALLAS — SMU continued its banner football season, giving some of its longtime fans more memories of the 1980s with an offense that produced droves of points and yards again at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

East Carolina was great on offense Saturday as well, gaining more yards than its nationally-…

E Carolina SMU Football

November 09, 2019

Seth LeDay's jumper with 14 seconds to play in the second half on Friday night pulled the East Carolina basketball team within a point of Navy, but when the Pirates fouled in the final minute, the Midshipmen made their free throws to preserve a 62-57 win in the Veteran's Classic in Annapolis.



November 09, 2019

Q: What is your favorite from of social media?

A: Probably Instagram, because I just like looking at the pictures.

Q: Could you kick with your left foot?

A: I could, but it would probably hurt. I don’t think I could very well, maybe like 12 yards. If my other leg fell off or something and I…

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