The Eagle’s Kellis Robinett and The Oregonian’s Aaron Fentress continue a 10-part series comparing Oregon and Kansas State ahead of Thursday’s Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. on ESPN, Ch. 32. Go to Kansas.com/wildcats for past matchups.
Starters: Rob Beard, kickoffs, sr., 6-0, 215 (Fullerton, Calif.); Alejandro Maldonado, K, jr., 5-10, 185 (Colton, Calif.); Jackson Rice, P, sr., 6-3, 218 (Morago, Calif.); De’Anthony Thomas, returner, so., 5-9, 176 (Los Angeles).
Stats: Rice ranked last in the Pac-12 in punting average at 39.6 yards after being one of the best in the country in 2011. Thomas is a scary returner but has been held pretty much in check this season. Beard and Maldonado have combined to make 5 of 12 field-goal attempts.
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Buzz: Oregon’s special teams, coached by the accomplished Tom Osborne, took a major dive in 2012 after being dominant in virtually all phases in 2011.
Starters: Tyler Lockett, returns, so., 5-11, 175 (Tulsa); Anthony Cantele, K, sr., 5-10, 181 (Wichita); Ryan Doerr, P, sr., 6-3, 184 (Katy, Texas).
Stats: Lockett is one of the most explosive returners in K-State history. He has returned four kicks for touchdowns, and averages more than 33 yards per return. Cantele connected on 18 of 21 field goals and all 62 of his extra-point attempts. Doerr is best at pinning opponents with bad field position. He has stuck teams within their own 20-yard line 14 times.
Buzz: Few teams emphasize special teams more than K-State. Starters participate on kickoff and punt coverage, and kickers and punters are relied upon to give the Wildcats a field-position advantage.
The Oregonian’s Aaron Fentress says
Edge to Kansas State. Oregon’s special teams have been a mess.
The Eagle’s Kellis Robinett says
Edge to K-State. Cantele and Doerr are above-average specialists and Lockett is a top-tier returner. K-State almost always holds a special-teams edge.