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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Position Preview: Special Teams

Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson / Arizona Daily Wildcat Ka’Deem Carey, No. 25, returns a kick for UA against the Oregon Ducks on Saturday, Sept. 24, last season.

In the days leading up to the Wildcats’ season opener against Toledo on Sept. 1, the Daily Wildcat has been previewing each positional group on Arizona’s roster, alternating between offense and defense.

Last up: Special Teams

Projected Starters: John Bonano (kicker), Kyle Dugandzic (punter), Richard Morrison (punt returner), Ka’Deem Carey (kick returner), Kylan Butler (kick returner)

Backups: Jaime Salazar (kicker), Jake Smith (kicker), Drew Riggleman (punter), Jonathan McKnight (punt returner)

Departures: Alex Zendejas, kicker (graduation)

Returning Stat Leaders: Carey – 26 returns, 549 yards, Morrison – 11 returns, 61 yards, Bonano – 8-12 FGs, 24-24 XP, 22 touchbacks, Dugandzic – 40 punts, 46-yard average

Arizona’s offensive and defensive special teams boast a wealth of experience and talent. The Wildcats punter and kicker are both seniors, and Dugandzic led the Pac-12 in punting average a season ago. Both Bonano and Dugandzic were named to the pre-season CFPA Watch List.

Dugandzic was not eligible for the national rankings in 2011 because of how few times he punted, but had he been eligibile he would have had the sixth-best punting average in the nation.

Bonano solidified his spot as the permanent kicker after both Zendejas and Salazar struggled through the first few weeks of the previous season as the starting kickers. He will handle kickoff and all field goal duties after returning from an injury that forced him out of the first week and a half of fall camp.

In the return game, a new face will see more playing time, as running back Butler takes over kickoff return duties alongside Carey. Carey and Butler both have game-breaking speed and are both shifty enough to pick up good field position for Arizona.

Receiver Morrison will remain the punt returner, but McKnight, who has returned from a knee injury that kept him out of the entire 2011 season, could challenge for time, especially if Morrison is a larger factor as a receiver/”Wildcat” quarterback on offense.

Grade: B

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