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By the numbers: Special Teams

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For Butch Jones, special teams are a significant concern right now. He mentioned on Tuesday that seven current walk-ons are playing special teams. That's a testament to how they have played, but at the same time an obvious concern with the depth of the squad.

Jones says all the time he looks at special teams first when analyzing the talent of the opponent.

Right now, he doesn't like what he sees when watching film of his own group. When breaking down ways in which the Bearcats could lose to a team that hasn't scored an offensive touchdown in two Big East games, the obvious conclusion would be in special teams. It becomes even more obvious when watching KR Lindsey Lamar take a kickoff 94 yards for the Bulls' lone TD against Syracuse.

And that's far from the only big play of the year in special teams for USF.

In fact, three of the Bulls' five most explosive plays of the season came on special teams.

Here's their top five:

Yds   Play   Opp     Who

94     KR     Syr      Lindsey Lamar

67     PR     WKU    Terrence Mitchell

63     Rush  SBU    Marcus Shaw

59     Pass   SBU    Daniels to Bogan

55      KR     WKU    Lindsey Lamar

Lamar also added a 39 yards kick return against Florida.

UC on the other hand has struggled in kick coverage.

They rank 85th in the country in kickoff return yardage allowed, with 22.78 yards per return. And that comes without giving up a return for a touchdown to throw off the average. Eleven teams ranked behind UC in the category have allowed at least one kickoff returned for a touchdown.

Bottom line, this could be the one area where a matchup falls greatly in favor of the Bulls. The Bearcats need to make sure they don't let Lamar beat them.

The special teams concerns don't end there. UC has yet to find any explosion in its own return game since the loss of Mardy Gilyard. The UC kickoff return is currently ranked 109th in the country in average yards per return at 18.77.

Of 26 kick returns this year, only five have gone longer than 25 yards and none longer than 37.

UC returned three kickoffs for touchdowns last season and Gilyard averaged 30.5 yards over 42 attempts.

The struggles in kickoff coverage and returns won't define whether the Bearcats earn a third consecutive Big East championship, but if there were any game where it could trip them up, South Florida would be it.

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