CFL Special Teams Power Rankings - A Week 12 Review
From broken records to PFF Honour rolls, Special Teams did not disappoint. Let's discuss how the CFL Special Teams units performed in this week's review;
Kickers attempted 18 field goals this week, connecting on just 15 of them, which gives them a field goal percentage slightly above 83%. This will bring down the league average through 12 weeks, which is now sitting at 88%. In Week 12, Kickers performed exceptionally well when tasked with kicking PATs, attempting 24 of them and missing just 1 PAT. Here are the CFL Week 12 Kicker Power Rankings;
Lewis Ward went 2/3 on field goals this week, logging his 3rd miss of the season. Before a 39-yard field goal was no good, he hit a 46-yarder and a 53-yarder, which brings his record on 50+ yard kicks to 6/7 (86%).
Sean Whyte stays in Second Position after also going 2/3 on field goals this week. He also made his only PAT. This week, we also got footage of Sean and Fullback David Mackie touring the Surrey RCMP facility before their game! On another note, Sean Whyte also confirmed in a Tweet that he plans on playing football for "as long as he can". Does this mean we see a contract extension this offseason? With how Whyte has been playing, the Lions would be silly not to lock him in for another year or two.
Sergio Castillo had the toughest night of his 2023 season, missing 2 kicks before the first half of action was finished. Overall, Castillo was 2/3 on field goals, missing a 52-yarder, and 5/6 on PATs. This was a bad game for Sergio, who acknowledged the fact after the game saying “It was s—t. For me, it was bad,”. I expect him to bounce back quickly but for now, Castillo will round out our Top Five.
Boris Bede's kicking was the least impressive part of his night, which is saying something, as he also handled kickoff and punt duties with starting Punter John Haggerty "Out" with a knee injury. Bede made his only field goal attempt from 39 yards out and was a perfect 5/5 on PATs.
Marc Leigghio had a great comeback game, going 3/3 on field goal attempts and 3/3 on PATs. I think he gets an unfair amount of criticism that he doesn't deserve. I'm looking forward to the second half of his season and so is Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Reinebold!
Dean Faithfull also went 3/3 on field goals, with his longest of the night coming from 38 yards out, and 3/3 on PATs. This brings his kicking streak to a total of 14 straight! Correction - None of Dean Faithfull's kicks have been categorized as "Clutch". This is an error on my part.
There were 43 punts across Week 12, accumulating 1985 yards (46.2 Avg.) and 1534 net yards (35.7 Net Avg.). Both of these figures are below the CFL average through 12 weeks; 47.3 yards and 37 net yards per punt (598 total punts). This week kickers had 10 of their punts (23%) remain inside the 20-yard line but only recorded 3 punts inside the 10-yard line. Punters also managed to kick 13 balls (30%) over 50 yards in Week 12, which is below the league average of 38%. Additionally, there were 2 Rouges and 1 Penalty awarded. Here are the CFL Week 12 Punter Power Rankings;
Cody Grace struggled this week, punting 9 times for an average of 43.7 yards and 28.8 net yards per punt. There were 2 of his punts (22%) that remained inside the 20-yard line and 1 punt that travelled over 50 yards. Despite struggling the last 2 weeks, Grace has performed well enough throughout the 2023 Season to keep his spot in the First Position.
John Haggerty didn't actually punt this week due to an injury. He did however hold for Boris Bede. Speaking of Boris Bede, he took over punting duties this week and did extremely well considering he hasn't punted since Week 16 of the 2022 Season. Bede punted 7 times for an average of 52.6 yards and 41.6 net yards per punt. His high average yards per punt can be attributed to the 4 punts (57%) that travelled over 50 yards. Boris was also able to keep 2 of his punts (29%) inside the opponent's 20-yard line, with 1 being pinned inside the 10. A Rouge was also scored when Bede punted the ball 75 yards into the endzone!
Richie Leone mirrored Bede's success punting 5 times for an average of 55.4 yards and 42.4 net yards per punt. Leone was able to punt the ball over 50 yards 3 times, which is equal to 60% of his punts. A single punt (20%) remained inside the 20-yard line. Unfortunately for Leone, one of his punts travelled just 37 yards before travelling out of bounds at the 21-yard line, which means a flag was thrown for an Illegal Punt.
Adam Korsak had a Bye Week but made the most of it, travelling back to his alma mater, Rutgers, to collect his Ray Guy Award! A lot, and I mean A LOT of fans are calling for Korsak to be signed by an NFL team, however, this won't happen unless it's specifically included in his CFL contract.
Long Snappers in the CFL performed spectacularly this week, with all 26 of their highlighted long snaps recorded as Strikes. This marks the first time in Between The Goalpost history that Long Snappers achieved a 100% Strike rate in any given week! Here are the CFL Week 12 Long Snapper Power Rankings;
Riley Pickett has been extremely consistent for the B.C. Lions this year. This week was no different as another 3 long snap highlights were called Strikes. Over the last 6 weeks, every one of his 24 highlighted long snaps were Strikes.
Peter Adjey has been 100% after his Bye Week in Week 9, with all 6 of his highlighted long snaps being called Strikes. I am hoping he continues to figure things out, as he is one of my favourite Long Snappers in the CFL.
There were 33 kickoffs in the CFL this week with Kickoff Specialists racking up a grand total of 2,168 yards; an average of 65.7 yards per kickoff. There were 5 kickoffs (15%) that remained inside the opponent's 30-yard line, showing a lack of discipline in terms of ball placement. There was also 1 penalty called on a kickoff. Here are the CFL Week 12 Kickoff Specialist Power Rankings;
Boris Bede, once again, had a good week kicking off with his 6 kickoffs averaging 69.2 yards per attempt. His ball placement was good as well, with 2 of his kickoffs remaining inside the opponent's 30-yard line.
Sergio Castillo is an interesting case, as he has the leg strength to kick the ball 70 yards but he struggled with ball placement. This week he performed 7 kickoffs for an average of 70.3 yards but didn't have any remaining inside the opponent's 30-yard line. With his Coverage Team struggling the way it has all season, I think it will be crucial for Castillo to focus on kicking the ball under 65 yards and a hang time of over 4.5 seconds, with the intention of allowing his Coverage Team to reach the Returner before they have time to formulate a plan of attack.
Dean Faithfull continues to be bailed out by his Coverage Unit, kicking off a total of 5 times for an average of 56 yards per attempt. He had 2 of his kickoffs remain inside the 30-yard line (40%), which was entirely due to his Coverage Unit leading the CFL in average yards allowed per kickoff return.
After struggling as a group for some time now, Kickoff Returners had a notable week with 34 attempts and an average of 23 yards per return. This was largely due to 2-3 standout players who had a great week of Special Teams. We even saw an Onside Kick be returned for a Touchdown! Here are the CFL Week 12 Kickoff Returner Power Rankings;
While Tyreik McAllister didn't see any action this week, his Veteran teammate, Tim White did have an opportunity to score some points on a return and score some points he did. With just 01:45 left in the game, Tim White returned an onside kickoff 47 yards to The House! This was the first Kickoff Return Touchdown we've seen so far in the 2023 CFL Season.
Chandler Worthy managed to return 7 kickoffs for an average of 29.4 yards per return. With 5 of those returns travelling over 30 yards, it's easy to see why this was his best week returning kickoffs.
Terry Willaims returned 3 kickoffs, averaging 22.3 yards per return. Williams was featured in this week's "Ask The Lions" segment, where he was asked a series of questions so fans could get to know him!
Janarion Grant has been seen running endzone sprints on August 30th and while he isn't practicing at this time, it's incredibly encouraging to see this news. McCrae hasn't been performing very well for the Bombers in Grant's absence.
Javon Leake returned 4 kickoffs for 113 yards, an average of 28.3 yards per return. Leake was able to return the ball farther than 30 yards 2 times (50%). Javon had a good week returning kickoffs, but a better one returning punts.
Breaking Records. That's the short story of what Punt Returners did during Week 12. There were 29 punts that were brought back for an average of 13 yards per attempt. There were 6 punts that travelled more than 15 yards, which includes an 86-yard punt return touchdown! Here are the CFL Week 12 Punt Returner Power Rankings;
Javon Leake broke a record this week as he returned a punt 86 yards to the house for his 4th Punt Return Touchdown. This ties the Argonauts single-season record for punt return touchdowns. What's more, is that he only needs 1 more to tie the CFL record and we still have another 10+ weeks to go! Leake returned 6 total punts this week, averaging over 20 yards per return and 2 of them (33%) travelled over 50 yards.
Greg McCrae actually had a decent week, returning 7 punts for an average of 14 yards per return. McCrae also had 1 punt travel over 30 yards, for a total of 48 yards. I've decided to replace Janarion Grant with McCrae, which accounts for the large influx of change in this week's Power Rankings.
Coverage Teams struggled throughout Week 12, with some teams surprising us (for better or for worse). Throughout the 2023 CFL Season, Coverage Teams have allowed an average of 11 yards per punt and 21.5 yards per kickoff, while accumulating approximately 22 penalties per team. During Week 12, Coverage Units allowed an average of 13 yards per punt (29 attempts) and 23 yards per kickoff (34 attempts). As for penalties, we still witnessed more than an ideal number of flags, with there being 20 thrown by the refs this week. Here are the CFL Week 12 Coverage Team Power Rankings;
The Montreal Alouettes had a bad week, allowing an average of 14.1 yards on 7 punts and 21.3 yards on 3 kickoffs. The worst part about this? They received 7 penalties. You can't play winning football like that and they're lucky they were below league average in terms of penalties received.
The Edmonton Elks continue to impress, allowing an average of 6 yards on 2 punts and 15.8 yards on 4 kickoffs. This kickoff coverage is absolutely insane and the Elks are certainly making their case for best Coverage Teams! They just need to keep those penalties down.
For the first time all year, The Hamilton Tiger-Cats had no flags thrown on them. In other news, they allowed an average of 13.7 yards over 3 punts and an average of 17 yards per kickoff return.
The Calgary Stampeders allowed an average of 19.1 yards per punt return and 27.6 yards per kickoff return. This, as well as the 2 penalty flags received during Week 12, will cause them to slip into the Fifth Position.
The B.C. Lions were also not penalized all game which is a feat and a half, as they are the most penalized team in the CFL.
Thank you for taking the time to read my work.
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