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1LDTFS, Post 12: Returners

So football practice starts today. Which means I've gotten through the brunt of the newsless summer, and we're fast approaching, well, the part of the year we enjoy. Long story short, I'm excited.

Quick site note - one of the perks of being half-Cuban is that I get to go visit Miami as frequently as I want with the excuse that I need to see my family. I'm taking advantage of that this week, as I'll be down there, so don't expect posts every day, because, let's face it, there's more interesting things to do in Miami. I might put up one or two, but don't hold your breath.

Days Left Til Football: 25.

Who did it last year?: Stephen Simmons returned kicks last year, and was nothing to write home about, but wasn't too bad either. He busted out some 30+-yard returns, but his reputation as a return man rightfully rests on one play, his 99-yard return for a touchdown against Ohio State in 2007. When Simmons was injured for a few games, a platoon of Jeremy Ebert, Jordan Mabin, Jeravin Matthews and Sherrick McManis took over, and Matthews' speed made him look pretty good at it.

Punt returns were handled by Brendan Smith, with a few cameo appearances by Eric Peterman. Smith's best return was obviously his pick-six against Minnesota, but he had a 51-yard punt return against Illinois that wasn't too bad either.

Who's got next?: Except for Peterman, we return (ughhhhhhhhhh) everybody mentioned above, meaning Smith pretty much has a lock on the punt-returning gig.

As for kicks, I'd assume Simmons will be deep pretty much every time, but with him as a likely candidate starting running back, I assume he won't be taking every single kickoff just to give his legs some time off before taking the field, although he did return kicks in his few starts last year. Look for a big role for Jeravin Matthews here, and lesser roles for the other guys mentioned. Also, if Fitz is to break in a true freshman, the kicking game is where the least mental adjustments are needed. As evidenced by the contributions of Ebert and Matthews, last year's only two true freshman, in the return game, Fitz won't be afraid to set some freshman loose here, so don't be surprised.

Is that an improvement?: Truth be told, last year's kick returning game was pretty bland. I mean, they got the job done, no Iowa-esque catch-and-coughs, nobody ran backwards, but there wasn't anything that truly put the offense on the brink of scoring. Pretty much, I'd be satisfied with just one good play. Other than Smith, I can't remember any electrifying returns, although Matthews and Simmons each had 40-yarders. If either unit can bust out one return that either puts six on the board or puts the offense in a position to do so quickly, I'd call this unit an improvement.

Oh, and, I added a new poll - listen to Diddy!