Special teams holes loom large for Troy

Published 9:05 pm Wednesday, July 30, 2014

While much of the focus of spring practice dealt with finding a replacement for veteran quarterback Corey Robinson, fall camp will be special…literally.

Troy head coach Larry Blakeney fells one of the biggest needs for his team is sure up the kicking game. Gone from last year’s team is reliable place kicker/punter Will Scott, holder Brett Thiesen and return man Wilson Van Hooser.

But Blakeney feels the gaps will be filled with quality replacements.

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Jed Solomon handled the kickoff duties in 2013, and will be in the mix for field goal work this year, along with the returning Ryan Kay and transfer Garrett Parker.

Punter Chase Tuten transferred to Troy from Southern and is the only punter listed on the 2014 roster.

“I am really anxious to see how these new guys can help us,” Blakeney said. “Shayne Wasden is the leader of the special teams, but everyone has a little hand in it. I think we have a really good chance to be good in the kicking game.”

Thiesen left the team over the summer, forcing the Trojans to find a new holder for PATs and field goals.

Blakeney said the team will make a decision on a new placeholder soon, but really likes what the Troy return game. Troy returned one put for a touchdown last year, an 11-yard return by K.D. Edenfield off a blocked kick, but hasn’t returned a kickoff to the house since Jerrell Jernigan’s 100-yard scamper against Oklahoma State in 2010.

“I am not really sure who is going be our holder,” Blakeney said. “Bryan Holmes and Chandler Worthy have developed in to seasoned return guys and we signed Teddy Reuben, the top junior college return man in the country. We are hoping to see some good things out of them.”

Blakeney said shoring up the special teams unit is huge for a variety of reasons, but the main one is having the ability to strike quick.

“You can make some big things happen with a good return game and kicking unit,” Blakeney said. “If you have a chance to score every time they are on the field, then good things come your way.”

Troy opens fall practice Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Practices are open to public and are held at Veterans Memorial Stadium and the adjacent practice fields.