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Certainties, Uncertainties, and an Australian Punter: The TCU Special Teams Preview

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Every position on TCU’s special teams is pretty much set heading into fall camp — except kicker.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 26 Cheez-It Bowl - Cal v TCU Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The headlines this offseason are mainly focused on TCU’s uncertainty at quarterback, and that makes sense.

The Frogs have six potential guys that could start once the season begins. And it’s been made crystal clear over the last few seasons that stability and solid play at quarterback is essential for TCU to have a successful year.

But the same can be said for special teams, especially at kicker. With Jaden Oberkrom’s leg in the mix, the Frogs won a Peach Bowl and an Alamo Bowl. Jonathan Song and Cole Bunce combined to make 14-15 field goals in 2017 and TCU won 11 games and another Alamo Bowl (although they did miss two extra points each).

In 2016, Brandon Hatfield and Ryan Graf made 18-25 field goals and the Frogs won six games. Last year, Song and Bunce regressed to make just 13-21 field goals, with Bunce converting four of nine attempts, and TCU had to scrape by to make the Cheez-It Bowl.

Now, how much of that is correlation and how much is causation? I don’t know — I’m not resident Frogs O’War stat man Parker Fleming. But TCU’s kicking game will once again rely on Bunce and Song, and that means there’s an air of unpredictability heading into 2019.

Here’s a look at the special teams for TCU, based off the depth chart released May 31:

2019 TCU Special Teams

Kicker Holder Snapper Kickoff Punter Kick Returner Punt Returner
Kicker Holder Snapper Kickoff Punter Kick Returner Punt Returner
Jonathan Song (Sr., 5-10 175) OR Jordy Sandy (Fr., 6-3 220) Antonio Ortiz (So., 6-4 240) Cole Bunce (Sr., 5-10 175) Jalen Reagor (Jr., 5-11 195) Jalen Reagor (Jr., 5-11 195)
Cole Bunce (Sr., 5-10 175) Sewo Olonilua (Sr., 6-3 240) Derius Davis (So., 5-9 160)
Trevon Moehrig (So., 6-2 190)

Let’s break these down by position.

KICKER

Bunce and Song share the dreaded “OR” in the depth chart, which means that both are fighting for the starting job. Over his career, Song is 17-20 on field goals, with his longest coming from 46 yards out. Bunce is 10-16, with a career long of 43. On paper, Song should win the starting job, but he’s battled through injuries, and considering Bunce is the kickoff specialist, it would seem he has the stronger leg.

What’s interesting is that TCU has four more placekickers on the roster that aren’t listed on the depth chart. Ray Thomas (Jr., 6-1 210), Maxwell Finch (Jr., 6-2 172), William Mann (Fr., 5-9 180) and Jonathan Trujillo (RS Fr., 6-1 170) have sparse bios on gofrogs.com, but if one of them makes a move in fall camp, it’s not out of the realm of possibility they see action.

My money is on Song to claim the starting job. But both he and Bunce will need to reverse the regression from 2018.

PUNTER

I cannot begin to express how excited I am for Jordy Sandy. Finally, TCU has an Australian punter to keep up with the rest of the NCAA. Sandy is an absolute unit of a punter at 6-3, 220, and he was the No. 5 punter in the class of 2019. Mark my words, he will become a fan favorite. He’ll replace Adam Nunez, who had spells of brilliance intermixed with average performances before leaving TCU for Rice as a grad transfer.

Junior Dillon Jones (6-4 165) and redshirt freshman Dearan Roche (6-1 165) are also listed as punters, and Trujillo is listed as a punter as well as a placekicker.

SNAPPER

Antonio Ortiz snapped for TCU last year but missed the Cheez-It Bowl with an injury, and he’s back for a sophomore campaign.

Donovan Cahill (Jr., 6-1 220) filled in for Ortiz in the Cheez-It Bowl and is presumably number two on the depth chart, though that’s not listed. Wil Houston (Jr., 6-2 237) is also on the roster as a snapper, but he has not seen game time through his first two years with the Frogs.

KICK RETURNER/PUNT RETURNER

Jalen Reagor is a magician every time he touches the ball, and he averaged 30.1 yards per kick return last season. He also had a 58-yard punt return. It’s really simple — TCU should maximize the amount of chances it has to get Reagor the ball. Let’s just hope he doesn’t tire out pulling return duty alongside his regular job at wide receiver.

Olonilua is a big body for a kick return man, but the only time he returned a kick last year, he returned it for 31 yards, so that’s a good sign. He only averaged 16.7 yards per return as a sophomore, however.

Derius Davis returned a punt for a touchdown in his first ever college game last year in the season opener against Southern. He’s got the speed necessary to be dangerous if Reagor needs a breather. Moehrig spent time on the defensive side of special teams in 2018, but Patterson had all good things to say about Moehrig’s offseason work, so there’s hope there if he’s pressed into service at returner.

Everything on offense for TCU seems to be fairly locked in heading into the fall — minus the quarterback, that is. And everything on special teams is locked in as well — minus the kicker.

If only those weren’t such crucial spots.