Spring practice is wrapping up with the Orange and Blue game Friday night and something that has gone somewhat unnoticed is the improvement on special teams. Special teams coordinator Greg Nord is heading into his second season with the Gators after coaching at Western Kentucky in 2014.
The main focus on special teams this spring is filling the hole of kick returner. With the departure of Vernon Hargreaves and the absence of Antonio Callaway, it has been unclear who will be in the back field in the fall. Coach McElwain has mentioned junior defensive back Dre Massey as a guy that could fill the role this upcoming season.
When it comes to the punter position, there are few questions. Redshirt junior Johnny Townsend returns as one of the top punters in the Southeastern Conference. If Townsend can stay healthy, the Gators will be set at punter.
The possibility of an improved kicking game is something that has gotten many Gator fans excited for in the spring. The Gators need early enrollee Eddy Pinerio to do big things in the fall. Florida struggled greatly with field goals last season as kicker Austin Hardin made only nine out of 14 field goal attempts and was the main culprit of the Gators kicking struggles. With kickers Neil MacInnes and Jorge Powell absent due to injuries, this is Pinerio’s time to step up. A viral video of Pinerio making a 70-yard field goal made him into a star recruit. The question is will his kicking talents and strong leg be useful when the pressure is on in the Swamp. Greg Nord says Pinerio is starting to be put in some pressured situations.