After a 3-8 record punctuated by another offseason of disciplinary problems, those questions haven’t gone away as the Panthers begin practice on Wednesday. They have less than four weeks before they open the season hosting S.C. State on Aug. 30 at the Georgia Dome. They will then dive into their first and last Colonial Athletic Association in a schedule that should be much more difficult than last year’s. The Panthers are joining the Sun Belt next year.
Here’s the next part in the five-part look at August’s practices (parts, 3, 4 and 5 will come out Monday-Wed.):
Will there be any improvement in special teams?
The Panthers were worse than their opponents in kick returns, punt returns, punt coverage and field goals last year. They committed penalties in all areas that affected field position. Coach Bill Curry said the team has been working to make the players understand that field position directly affects wins and losses.
“We have to convince the guys the way to fix the little details: don’t hit a guy in the back,” he said.
Curry said he was part of last year’s problem. He didn’t want to play some starters on the different units. He said he won’t shy away from doing that this year. He said some starters, notably Emmanuel Ogbuehi, have asked to be put onto the special teams units.
“That’s an example of the way the team’s grown up,” he said.
Matt Ehasz and Matt Hubbard will likely be two of the specialists. Kicker Christian Benvenuto remains suspended after allegedly being involved in a bar fight. It was the same fight that resulted in the dismissal of backup quarterback and punter Bo Schlechter and linebacker Dexter Moody.
– Doug Roberson, please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu