POV’s Take: Pre-Spring Practice – Special Teams

Here is yet another great piece from MajorMajors, this time discussing who we may see in Pitt’s Special Teams’  play in 2018.

Well, Isn’t that Special?”  — A Look at Pitt’s Special Team

My apologies to “The Church Lady,” but special teams are called “special” for a reason.  You can win a game with a kickoff return; you can lose a game by giving up a punt return.  You can win a game with a 50+ yard field goal; you can lose a game by missing a chip shot. We’ve done all of the above in the last few years.

Really though, we’ve been pretty hot on special teams lately, with some heroics from Chris Blewitt, Alex Kessman and Quadree Henderson.  Where do we go from here?

Punter – Out with the Old; In with the New

Well, we lost a good one.   Ryan Winslow was a first-team All-ACC selection last season.   His average of 44.5 yards per punt topped the ACC, and he dropped 16 punts inside the 20.    He was the only player to punt for Pitt last season.

We will miss Ryan’s punting, but what about his passing?  Who can forget his TD pass to Nathan Bossory against Virginia Tech on the fake field goal – oops, sorry to bring that game up.  And I didn’t realize it, but Ryan was our holder on placekicks for the last four years.

I still remember his critical pass completion on the fake punt at Syracuse in 2015.  The pass went to Matt Galambos, of all people. Talk about catching the ‘Cuse by surprise.   I remember thinking that, succeed or fail, I like this kind of gutsy call by this Narduzzi guy.  Pitt ended up with Chris Blewitt kicking a game-winning field goal later in that drive.

Our new punter will be redshirt freshman Kirk Christodoulou (pronounced “christo-doo-lou”).  Billy Hillgrove should have fun with that one. Kirk is from Melbourne Australia. And as a freshman, he was 20 years old.

His bio says he “worked with the renowned Prokick Australia program that has produced many successful collegiate and NFL punters…Prokick Australia’s “exports” include Pittsburgh Steelers punter Jordan Berry and all three 2016 Ray Guy Award finalists: winner Mitch Wishnowsky (Utah) as well as Michael Dickson (Texas) and Cameron Johnston (Ohio State).   Well, sounds like Kirk had some good teachers.

I found some interesting information about Kirk in a Pitt News article from last season by Steve Rotstein.  For example, Kirk knows Steeler Jordan Berry from their days in Australia “It’s great to have a friend,” Christodoulou said. “I’ve known him for a few years now, so, funny enough, moving halfway around the world, you end up having another Australian next door, so that’s pretty cool.”

More from the Pitt News article: “Kirk Christodoulou didn’t grow up around the same game as everybody else on the Pitt football team — to him, it’s called “footy.”  He doesn’t say he’s going to go practice some punting — he’s going to “have a kick.” He wears cleats just like his teammates — but to him, they’re his “boots.”

“The first night I got here, I didn’t have any sheets or bedding or anything, so I slept on just a plain mattress with a jacket. So then the next day I sent [Jordan Berry] a text, I was like, ‘Jordan, please take me to get some sheets. I’m freezing,’” Christodoulou said. “So we went to Walmart and Target and bought some pillows and stuff so at least I’m a bit more comfy.”

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