Citizen Staff Writer
Arizona’s special teams were a mess in the first half against Arizona State on Saturday.
The Wildcats allowed a 46-yard kick return to Kyle Williams, which set up a short drive for a field goal. Sophomore punter Keenyn Crier made a huge mistake when he fielded a punt snap with his knee on the ground, effectively downing the ball at the UA 19. The Sun Devils went on to score a touchdown.
Arizona had three chances at a kick return, but failed to have an attempt longer than 17 yards.
Arizona committed two penalties on its first punt return, including a dead-ball personal foul on freshman receiver Bug Wright.
Arizona committed another dead-ball personal foul penalty (linebacker Adrian McCovy) on its second punt return.
“I’d say all year we had probably four, maybe five, penalties (on special teams),” special teams coach Jeff Hammerschmidt said after the 31-10 victory over ASU.
“Today, it seemed we had four or five in the first half. I thought I was going to get fired in the first half. When I came out for the second half, that was a good sign.”
Problems trickled over into the first possession of the second half, as safety Joe Perkins was called for an illegal block in the back on a punt return, although returner Mike Thomas hadn’t even fielded the ball.
After that, the UA special teams played well, stuffing ASU’s returns and scoring on Thomas’ 52-yard punt return.
“In the second half, we killed them,” Hammerschmidt said.
“In the first half, guys were trying too hard. You have so many guys who aren’t starters who are so anxious in a big game. They’re just playing aggressive.”