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  • Writer's pictureNoah Beausoleil

CFL Special Teams Power Rankings - A Week 11 Review

I'm super busy this week so I'll cut to the chase. Let's discuss how the CFL Special Teams units performed in this week's review;

 

Kickers

The Kickers had their worst week of the 2023 CFL season. They attempted 25 field goals and made 20 of them, good for a field goal percentage of 80%. They also went 14/15 on PATs, meaning there was a total of 6 misses. Here are the CFL Week 11 Kicker Power Rankings;

  • Lewis Ward will climb into the First Position this week after demonstrating extreme consistency throughout 11 weeks. This week, he made his only field goal attempt from 39 yards out and was 3/3 on PATs.

  • Sean Whyte is in a close race with Ward for First Place after going 3/3 on field goals and 2/2 on PATs this week. His longest field goal was from 42 yards. Whyte is having an extremely good season and has now made 23 field goals in a row! The only knock I have against him is that he missed a PAT earlier this season. We almost got to see Sean kick a 50+ yard, game-winner this week, but his offence wasn't able to put him in a position to do so. For what it's worth, I think he would've made it.

  • Rene Paredes will slip out of the First Position for the first time since Week 8 after going 6/8 on field goals this week. He had a decent week but missed from 45 yards and 50 yards, which hurt his spot in the Power Rankings. Unfortunately, his 6 field goals were not enough to win the game for the Stamps, as they fell 19-18 to the Bombers. Obviously, it's not fair to place all the blame on Paredes, but if he makes even 1 of those field goals, the Stamps win.

  • Sergio Castillo had another great game this week, going 4/4 on field goals (with a long of 42 yards) and 1/1 on his PAT. Here is what he has to say about how his Special Teams Unit is performing.

  • David Cote hit another 50-yard field goal this week and is now 3/3 on attempts over 50+ yards, something he struggled with in 2022.

  • Brett Lauther extends his field goal streak to 13 in a row after going 2/2 this week (Long of 63 yards). At the halfway mark in the season, Lauther has officially raised over 4000$ for the KidSport charity. Keep it rolling Lauther!

  • The elephant in the room; Marc Liegghios Week 11 performance. It was a bad game. There's nothing anyone can say that would change that. 4 misses is too many misses. Liegghio was 1/4 on field goals, with a long of just 20 yards, and he missed his only PAT. Personally, I think it was a combination of poor wind reading (is that a thing?), a new placeholder (Kaare Vedvik replacing Flint), and nerves that really ruined his night but that won't stop the haters from demanding he lose his job over it. Lieggz looked rough this week but has otherwise been quite solid for Hamilton while they await the return of Seth Small.

  • Dean Faithfull was perfect all night, making his only field goal from 18 yards as well as 3 PATs. He has now made 9 consecutive kicks a row so I'm hoping this is him turning the corner and showing what he can really do in the CFL. ***UPDATE*** It looks like Faithfull is on the Injury Report for Edmonton this week and isn't practising with an Ankle Injury. While Dave Campbell (Elks reporter extraordinaire!) says that it might just be a "maintenance day" for Dean, I've already speculated the Elks could sign Global Kicker Rafael Gaglianone, who was with Edmonton's practice squad in '22 but was released before the start of the '23 season.

 

Punters

There were 49 punts this week, with Punters averaging 46.5 yards and 38.8 net yards per punt. An above-season-average number of punts remained inside the 20-yard line; 15 of them to be exact (30.6%), with 6 of those remaining inside the 10-yard line. Punters were also able to have 18 of their punts (36.7%) travel over 50 yards, which is just under the league average of 38.6%. Here are the CFL Week 11 Punter Power Rankings;

  • Adam Korsak had a night and a half, punting 10 times for an average of 45.5 yards and 38.9 net yards per punt. He managed to have 4 of those punts (40%) remain inside the 20-yard line, of which 2 were pinned inside the 10-yard line! There are some people out there petitioning for Korsak to be signed by NFL teams due to how well he is performing in the CFL. I love to see it!

  • John Haggerty is listed on the Toronto Injury Report with a Knee injury and hasn't practiced all week. It's likely that he will be listed as "Out" for Toronto's game against Calgary on Friday so I suspect that we will see Boris Bede come in to Punt for the Argos.

  • Stefan Flintoft punted 5 times for a very impressive 54 yards and 48.2 net yards per punt. His longest of the night was an insane 71-yarder that got the Lions out of a tough field position issue.

  • Jamieson Sheahan punted 8 times for an average of 48.6 yards and 30.4 net yards per punt. Amazingly, over 60% of his punts were over 50+ yards! Sheahan also had 2 punts land inside the 20-yard line, with 1 sticking inside the 10-yard line.

  • Kaare Vedvik performed incredibly well in his first game back in the CFL since the 2022 season. He punted 4 times for an average of 47.5 yards and 41.3 net yards per attempt. Vedvik had 2 punts travel over 50 yards and had 1 stick inside the 10-yard line. I think his ball placement is better than Flint's and am excited to see what he does with his time in Hamilton.

 

Long Snappers

We continue to see a high number of Long Snapper highlights in the CFL Recaps with 32 being shown this week. Of these 32 long snaps seen, I've determined that 26 of them were Strikes, roughly 81%. Here are the CFL Week 11 Long Snapper Power Rankings;

  • Aaron Crawford has returned from injury! He had a great week, with 10 of his 11 long snaps being called Strikes. He had a pretty high snap early in the game but after shaking off the rust he returned to form and deserves the First Position.

  • Riley Pickett now has 23 consecutive Strikes called for his last 23 long snaps shown. This is incredibly impressive and his performance throughout the 2023 season has helped his kicker and punter perform marvellously. Here is a really well-written article about his new role!

  • Gordon Whyte had a fun interview with Patrice Whiffen about his love for golf, sneakers, and dogs!

  • Mike Benson had a rough game. Of his 8 long snaps shown, just 5 were Strikes. In the last 3 weeks, he has only been snapping Strikes at a rate of 67%, which is less than ideal.

 

Kickoff Specialists

Kickoff Specialists were decent as a whole, kicking off 29 times for an average of 65.5 yards per attempt. There were 8 kickoffs (27.6%) that remained inside the 20-yard line. Here are the CFL Week 11 Kickoff Specialist Power Rankings;

  • Brett Lauther had 6 kickoffs averaging about 70 yards per attempt. As we've seen all year, longer kickoffs result in much better field position on average. This performance was no exception as Lauther was able to keep 4 of his kickoffs (67%) inside the opponent's 30-yard line. This will give him a huge boost in our Power Rankings and has him just outside of the Top 3 as we enter Week 12.

  • Stefan Flintoft also had a good week, kicking off 5 times for an average of 70.6 yards per attempt. He had 2 of his kickoffs (40%) remain inside the 30-yard line.

 

Kickoff Returners

There were 29 returns that went for a total of 607 yards, an average of 20.9 yards per return. Of these 29 kickoff returns, 5 were longer than 30 yards, which accounts for roughly 17.2%. Here are the CFL Week 11 Kickoff Returner Power Rankings;

  • Tommylee Lewis had 3 kickoff returns for an average of 30.3 yards per return with a long of 47 yards. Lewis was limited at practice this week with a Wrist injury but still might see playing time. The Stamps would certainly miss him if he doesn't play.

  • I'm done with CJ Sims and Javon Leake returning kickoffs. Both these returners are doing well returning punts but they cannot get it together on kickoffs. I want to see new guys, like Gavin Cobb, getting an opportunity moving forward.

 

Punt Returners

Punt Returners did their thing 40 times in Week 11 and averaged 9.5 yards each time they did it. There were 7 of these returns (17.5%) that travelled for more than 15 yards. Here are the CFL Week 11 Punt Returner Power Rankings;

  • Tommylee Lewis was really the only Punt Returner worth mentioning this week, returning 8 punts for 146 yards, an average of 18.3 yards per return. While his longest return was 45 yards, 5 of his returns travelled for more than 15 yards. In fact, Lewis leads the league in this category, with almost 50% of his returns being taken back for over 15 yards.

  • Terry Williams fought against a stout Roughrider Coverage Unit this week, returning 6 punts for an average of 11 yards per return. There were 2 of his returns (33%) that travelled over 15 yards.

 

Coverage Teams

As the weeks go on, I continue to evaluate what I believe is important with regard to Coverage Units in the CFL. I have re-ordered the Power Rankings to more accurately reflect what I think is vital to success and this is the cause of the large jumps all over the Rankings. Coverage Teams across the CFL played very well against returners, allowing an average of 9.5 yards per punt return (The season average is 10.8 yards allowed per punt return) and an average of 20.9 yards per kickoff return (The season average is 21.3 yards allowed per kickoff return). There were also 13 penalties handed out. Here are the CFL Week 11 Coverage Team Power Rankings;

  • The Calgary Stampeders allowed an average of 8.7 yards on 3 punt returns and 17 yards on 1 kickoff return. They also managed to block a punt by the Bombers!

  • While the Edmonton Elks, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and BC Lions have received an extremely high number of penalties, I feel as though their performance on the field cancels them out. If these teams could just avoid the dumb penalties, they would be in the Top 3.

  • The Winnipeg Blue Bombers had a bad week, allowing an average of 18.3 yards on 8 punt returns and an average of 30.3 yards on 3 kickoff returns.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my work.


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