Iowa State football preview 2014: Looking at the special teams


Despite Iowa State losing one of their best punters in history, the whole special teams unit as a whole has a chance to improve off a pretty good 2013 campaign.

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Gone is the old, reliable Kirby Van Der Kamp to bail to out the offense when they go three-and-out. The punter exits and paves the way for redshirt freshman Holden Kramer, and we’ll touch on him a little bit more later.

Elsewhere, the kicking game has been an infamous adventure for Cyclones fans, and it looked like 2013 was going to be another fun ride after the game at Tulsa with two missed kicks by freshman Cole Netten.

However, that wasn’t the case. He beat out senior Edwin Arceo and Paul Rhoads stuck with him. Netten nailed all three field goal attempts the following week against Texas and went 7-for-10 the rest of way. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than having to worry about if the team is going to get the extra point after a touchdown.

Players to watch: Jarvis West is the designated punt returner, but in one of his two total kickoff returns last season, he went 95 yards to the house against Texas Tech. DeVondrick Nealy also sent a punt return back for a TD against TCU. West and Nealy are not the freakishly athletic returners that threaten to take it back every time, but teams can’t be preventative and just let them do what they want.

Newcomer to watch (UPDATE): Previously, we believed that Holden Kramer was going to be the guy at punter because he was the only one listed on the depth chart. Instead, it appears that punting duties will done by freshman Colin Dowling. Don’t forget Kramer though; if things don’t pan out for Dowling, he’ll likely be the next guy up to bat.

Projection: Obviously we’ll figure out what the Cyclones have in their punter, but everything else is locked up. Netten has the potential to be a consistent field goal kicker and he does fine doubling up at kicking off.

This unit overall is about as average as it gets for Iowa State, and that’s a good thing because that’s what special teams strive to be. Not noticeable. The less fans talk about it, the better they’re doing.