2017-09-17 sp-tulaneou

Oklahoma Sooners place kicker Austin Seibert (43) attempts a kick during the NCAA football game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Tulane Green Wave at Gaylord Memorial Stadium on Saturday, September 16, 2017. IAN MAULE/Tulsa World

JamesGibbardTulsaWorld
TownNews.com Content Exchange

Last season

Austin Seibert handled kickoffs, punts and field goals for the second consecutive season. Altough he was inconsistent early, Seibert blossomed into a reliable force for the most part, despite his field goal that was blocked in overtime of the Rose Bowl.

Seibert was a second team All-Big 12 pick as a kicker and honorable mention as a punter.

Seibert made 18 of 21 field goal tries and was 81-of-81 on extra points. His best contribution came on kickoffs, where Seibert registered touchbacks on more than 75 percent of his kickoffs. He also averaged a career-best 42.3 yards on punts.

Where OU could have used more help was the return game, where the Sooners did not score a touchdown. The Sooners ranked 97th in punt return average and 98th in kickoff return average, with CeeDee Lamb, Jeff Badet and Marcelias Sutton splitting up most of the return duties.

Equally problematic was OU’s return defense. The Sooners ranked 127th nationally in punt return defense, allowing 16.38 yards per punt. OU ranked 95th in kickoff return yards, surrendering 23.1 yard per return.

Looking ahead

The biggest difference for OU on special teams this year might not be a player.

Instead, the addition of assistant coach Shane Beamer could have a big impact on OU’s third unit. Beamer is the son of former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, whose teams often made their marks on special teams. Beamer comes to OU from Georgia, where he orchestrated a remarkable special teams turnaround in only two seasons, and superior special teams played a big role on Georgia beating OU in the Rose Bowl.

OU will also benefit from having Seibert back for a senior season, where he could again handle all three kicking roles.

The Sooners will be looking for a new deepsnapper to replace Wesley Horky, but OU’s biggest focus will likely be to defend returns better and create more big plays in the return game, as well.

At Georgia, Beamer make a mark through putting the teams best players on special teams, too, so don’t be surprised to see a change in OU’s special teams personnel.

In the return game, Lamb will have a good chance to handle returns again and could be much improved as a sophomore. Expect the Sooners to also open up the return roles for competition, where almost any skill player on the roster could earn a role.

Cody Stavenhagen
Twitter: @CodyStavenhagen

This article originally ran on tulsaworld.com.

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