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  • Writer's pictureNoah Beausoleil

UFL Special Teams Power Rankings - A Week 3 Review

Updated: Apr 18

Prepare yourself for a special edition of the Week 3 Power Rankings! Introducing the first-ever Between The Goalposts Special Teams Player of the Week. Let's discuss that;

 

Special Teams Player of the Week

The UFL came under fire last week after it was announced the UFL Players Association filed a grievance regarding the league's decision not to hand out Player of the Week awards. Have no fear, Between The Goalposts has you covered. Isiah Hennie - USFL Conference

  Coming off the inactive list this week was none other than Isiah Hennie. He was placed there after a rocky start to the UFL season, but the All-USFL returner has silenced any doubters with this remarkable comeback performance, returning 6 kickoffs for 207 yards. He started the game off right by returning a kickoff to the 46-yard line, setting the tone for the rest of his night. Hennie racked up another 43 return yards in the first quarter on this Kickoff, showcasing his ball-carrier vision and agility. Later in the second quarter, he returned another kickoff for around 25 yards. If it wasn't for an excellent tackle from a member of the Michigan Coverage Team, Hennie could have scored the UFL's first kick return touchdown. As the teams emerged onto the field after halftime, He finally broke off a big one, returning the second-half kickoff 75 yards, setting his team up on the opponent's 20-yard line. Hennie's success in Week 3 should provide a struggling Houston special teams unit with some much-needed confidence. Congratulations Isiah Hennie, you are the Week 3 USFL Special Teams Player of the Week!

Matt McCrane - XFL Conference

  Matt McCrane entered Week 3 as one of only three Kickers in the UFL who hadn't missed a field goal. He kept his perfect record, making all 3 field goal attempts, however, it was no easy feat. McCrane's services would be called upon early in the game, with his first attempt coming from 54 yards out. The snap was a bit off but the holder wrangled it in, and Matt drilled the ball straight through the uprights. Later in the game, DC would once again rely on their Kicker, bringing him out for a 58-yard attempt. With an excellent snap and hold, McCrane's field goal was good, making it a 1-point game. With just 48 seconds remaining in the game, the DC Defenders received the ball, trailing 26-28. The offence worked their magic, putting together an impressive 41-yard drive, placing the ball within field goal range. As time expired, McCrane drilled a 49-yard field goal right down the middle, winning the game for the Defenders. He remains a perfect 8/8 on the season and is currently 3/3 on field goal attempts over 50 yards. Congratulations Matt McCrane, you are the Week 3 XFL Special Teams Player of the Week!

 

Kickers

  Somehow, the Kickers of the UFL continue to improve on their previous performances. Collectively, they attempted 19 field goals, converting every single one. Through 3 weeks, kickers have now made 48 of the 52 field goal attempts, including 13 field goals over 50 yards. Here are the UFL Week 3 Kicker Power Rankings;

Working top-down;

  1. Jake Bates (MICH) remains perfect on the year, making both of his field goal attempts. He displayed his reliability by making this 46-yard field goal with ease, following it up with a 55-yard field goal later in the game. When asked how he was feeling about making his fourth 50-yard field goal of the season, he replied that he was just doing his job.

  2. Matt McCrane (DC) made all 3 of his field goal attempts, earning him the Between The Goalposts Special Teams Player of the Week award.

  3. JJ Molson (HOU) kept pace, also remaining perfect on the year, going 2/2 on field goals this week. The difference is that both of his attempts were from under 40 yards, with his first coming from only 25 yards out, and the second from 35 yards.

  4. Andre Szmyt (STL) had an excellent game, going 3/3 on field goals and recording a new career long of 54 yards. His remaining field goal attempts were from 44 yards and 46 yards, respectively.

  5. Matt Coghlin (MEM) made both of his attempts, with one coming from 34 yards and the second, a career-long 57-yarder.

  6. Chris Blewitt (BHAM) went 3/3 on field goals this week, with his first coming from 22 yards out. The remaining 2 were a bit more impressive, coming from 43 yards and 46 yards. It has been reported that Blewitt will miss approximately 1 week after being listed with a quad injury. In his place, the Stallions have signed another former Pittsburgh Mauler Kicker; Ramiz Ahmed.

  7. Taylor Russolino (ARL) was perfect on field goal attempts this week, with one coming from 36 yards and the second from 49 yards out.

  8. Ryan Santoso (SAN) was signed this week following an injury to UFL Superstar Donald De La Haye. He was put in the spotlight early and made the Brahmas' first field goal of 2024 from 35 yards away. His second field goal would be from 32 yards out. While Santoso has not missed a field goal, he will need to showcase some extreme consistency and leg strength to hang with the league's top kickers.

 

Punters

  There were just 16 punts recorded this week with Punters averaging 45.8 yards and 37.2 net yards per punt. Only 2 punts (13%) remained inside the 20-yard line, significantly lower than the Season average of 36%. The percentage of punts over 50 yards climbed to 38% this week, the highest we've seen thus far. There was only 1 punt that travelled into the endzone for a touchback. Here are the UFL Week 3 Punter Power Rankings;

Working top-down;

  1. Sterling Hofrichter (STL) punted 1 time, a 37-yarder that narrowly avoided being blocked and was downed at the 21-yard line.

  2. Colby Wadman (BHAM) had an interesting game. His first punt, a 35-yarder, resulted in a fair catch at the 10-yard line. Wadman's second "punt" came late in the fourth quarter and was technically a kick after a safety but I've decided to record this as a punt due to the style of kick used. Regardless of what you want to call it, Wadman made great contact and sent the ball 70 yards downfield.

  3. Matt White (MEM) was the only other Punter to climb the Power Rankings this week after punting 5 times for an average of 53 yards and 45 net yards per punt. Notably, 3 of his punts (60%) travelled over 50 yards. White's most impressive punt was this 66-yard nuke that, due to a penalty, resulted in a net gain of 61 yards. If he can continue to find success flipping the field for Memphis White will find himself in the Top 2.

  4. Brad Wing (SAN)  punted twice for a total of 92 yards but struggled with a net average of just 28 yards. Facing an elite talent in Darrius Shepherd, Wing got lucky on his first punt, where the returner could not field the ball. In the fourth quarter Wing would be forced to make his first tackle of the season after a huge return by Shepherd.

  5. Marquette King (ARL) did not punt this week.

  6. Brock Miller (MICH) punted twice averaging, 44 yards and 41 net yards per punt. He excelled under pressure on this 46-yard punt and his placement was flawless as he yielded just 6 yards to returners.

  7. Paxton Brooks (DC) punted 2 times, averaging 50 yards per punt with a net average of 38 yards. While his first punt, a 52-yarder, resulted in a touchback, his second punt would take a friendlier bounce and was downed at the 21-yard line.

  8. Hunter Niswander (HOU) had yet another punt blocked this week, affecting his numbers substantially, averaging just 23.5 net yards across 2 punts. When protected properly, Niswander can be elite, highlighted by this 42-yard punt that remained inside the 15-yard line.

 

Kickoff Specialists

  There were a total of 45 Kickoffs this week, with Specialists averaging an impressive 70 yards per kickoff for the first time all season. There were 26 Kickoffs (58%) that travelled further than 70 yards, while another 14 (31%) were kept inside the 30-yard line. Fans were also treated to not only 1 but 2 Kickoffs resulting in Touchbacks, a noteworthy milestone that has not been seen in the UFL before. Here are the UFL Week 3 Kickoff Specialist Power Rankings;

Working top-down;

  1. Chris Blewitt (BHAM) continues to dominate, kicking off 7 times with an average distance of 70 yards per attempt. He was able to kick 6 of his 7 Kickoffs (86%) past the 70-yard mark, with 3 (43%) staying inside the 30-yard line. Ramiz Ahmed, Blewitt's replacement, averaged about 70.6 yards across 37 attempts in 2022 and will have some big shoes to fill.

  2. Paxton Brooks (DC) and McCrane shared Kickoff duties once again this week. Brooks kicked off 3 times, averaging 72 yards per attempt with 2 (67%) remaining inside the 30-yard line. He also recorded the UFL's first 80-yard Kickoff Touchback. Meanwhile, McCrane averaged 74 yards across 2 Kickoffs, with both travelling over 70 yards.

  3. Jake Bates (MICH) kicked off 6 times, totalling 425 yards and averaging 71 yards per attempt. He continues to impress with 69% of his kickoffs travelling further than 70 yards. Bates successfully kept 2 of his Kickoffs (33%) inside the 30-yard line for the first time, securing his position in the Top 3.

  4. Ryan Santoso (SAN) was brought in to replace the injured Deestroying this week and did an excellent job. He kicked off 6 times, averaging an impressive 71 yards per attempt. He had 3 Kickoffs travel for more than 70 yards, including this 80-yard Touchback that placed the ball at the 25-yard line.

  5. Andre Szmyt (STL) kicked off 6 times, averaging 67 yards per attempt. He had 1 Kickoff (17%) travel further than 70 yards while keeping another 2 Kickoffs (33%) inside the 30-yard line.

  6. Taylor Russolino (ARL) had his most complete game yet, kicking off 6 times for an average of 69 yards per attempt. He showed off his leg strength, launching 4 of his Kickoffs (67%) further than 70 yards, while 2 (34%) remained inside the 30-yard line.

  7. Matt Coghlin (MEM) struggled for the second week in a row, kicking off 4 times for a total of 271 yards, averaging just 68 yards per kickoff. Only 1 of his kickoffs travelled further than 70 yards and all 4 were returned beyond the 30-yard line.

  8. JJ Molson (HOU) averaged about 70 yards per kickoff across 4 attempts. He continues to improve upon his weak Week 1 performance but still has some work to do as it took him 3 weeks to successfully keep a kickoff inside the 30-yard line.

 

Long Snappers

  There was quite a bit of shuffling occurring in the Long Snapper Power Rankings this week as players began to get more reps. There were 17 field goal snaps shown in highlight packages this week, with Strikes being recorded 82% of the time (14/17). Additionally, Long Snappers recorded 3 Strikes on the 3 punt snaps highlighted. This results in a collective total strike percentage of 85%, which matches the season high set in Week 1. There were no tackles recorded this week. Here are the UFL Week 3 Long Snapper Power Rankings;

Working top-down;

  1. Jordan Ober (MICH) will claim our top spot after having another perfect game with both of his field goal snaps being recorded as Strikes. The fact that 4 of his field goal snaps have come in high-pressure, 50+ yard situations shows how quickly his snaps are getting back to the holder and speaks volumes to his ability to block against rushers on the line of scrimmage.

  2. Rex Sunahara (SAN) was finally able to get some field goal snaps on film and both were recorded as Strikes. He remains perfect across 5 total snaps.

  3. Alex Matheson (STL) rounds out the top 3, delivering 2 field goal snaps this week, both of which were recorded as strikes.

  4. Logan Klusman (HOU) is the last Long Snapper who has a Total Strike Percentage of 100%. While all 10 of his snaps have been perfect, Houston's struggles on punt blocks have impacted Klusman's ranking, with the team being responsible for 3 punt blocks in as many games, which is going to keep him outside of the top 3.

  5. Ryan Langan (BHAM) recorded his first Ball of the season, with this high snap, causing him to slide to the fifth position.

  6. Trae Barry (DC) had 2 of his 3 field goal snaps recorded as Strikes this week. While this field goal snap was quite wobbly, the Holder was able to wrangle it in so the result of the kick was not affected. It's also worth noting that Barry delivered a perfect snap on McCrane's 49-yard game-winning field goal.

  7. Turner Bernard (MEM) started off struggling, with a high field goal snap that was luckily wrangled in by the Holder. He would later clean things up with a perfect snap on both this punt and his second field goal snap.

  8. Antonio Ortiz (ARL) only had 1 field goal snap highlighted this week and it was recorded as a Strike.

 

Kickoff Returners

  There were a total of 45 Kickoff Returns during the Week 3 matchups, with Kickoff Returners averaging 24.4 yards per return. There were 9 returns (20%) travelling over 30 yards including a new season long of 75 yards. Additionally, 2 fumbles were recorded this week. Here are the UFL Week 3 Kickoff Returner Power Rankings;

Working top-down;

  1. Darrius Shepherd (STL) delivered one of the most impressive statistical performances of any Kickoff Specialist this week. He returned 5 Kickoffs averaging 30 yards per return with a long of 43 yards. Incredibly, 50% of Shepherd's returns this season have been returned for more than 30 yards.

  2. Isiah Hennie (HOU) climbs to the second position after re-establishing himself as one of the league's most electric returners and earning the Between The Goalposts Special Teams Player of the Week award.

  3. Juwan Manigo (ARL) returned 4 Kickoffs for a total of 82 yards, averaging just 21 yards per return. Despite the relatively low average, he was still able to find some success on this 33-yard return.

  4. Trey Williams (MEM) returned 6 kickoffs, averaging 22.5 yards per return with a long of 33 yards. He has been performing well, which is why it was a surprise when the Showboats released him earlier this week. I anticipate either Jarey Elder or Daewood Davis will take over return duties next week.

  5. Chris Rowland (DC) also had a dominant Week 3, returning 4 kickoffs for an average of 31.3 yards per return. His most impressive return came late in the fourth quarter with an incredible 57-yard kickoff return that set his team up for victory.

  6. Gary Jennings (BHAM) did not return any kickoffs this week.

  7. Marcus Simms (MICH) did not return any kickoffs this week. His replacements struggled, with Levonta Taylor returning 2 kickoffs for an average of 24 yards and De'Gabriel Floyd averaging 18 yards across 4 returns, with 1 fumble.

  8. Deon Cain (BHAM) recorded just 7 yards on his single kickoff return but it was because he lateralled the ball to Isaiah Zuber for a big gain.

  9. Pooka Williams (DC) did not return any kickoffs this week.

  10. Brycen Alleyne (SAN) was one of three kickoff returners taking snaps for the Brahmas this week, averaging 21 yards across 3 returns with a long of 22 yards. Marquez Stevenson and Anthony McFarland didn't perform any better.

 

Punt Returners

  There were only 10 punt returns in Week 3, resulting in minimal movement in the Power Rankings. Despite the limited opportunities, Punt Returners were able to record an average of 9.7 yards per return and had 2 Punt Returns (20%) travel over 15 yards, including the longest Punt Return we've seen thus far. Here are the UFL Week 3 Punt Returner Power Rankings;

Working top-down;

  1. Darrius Shepherd (STL) impressed, returning 2 punts for a total of 37 yards, including a 32-yard return - the longest ever recorded in the UFL. Shepherd continues to dominate the returner landscape, averaging over 16 yards per punt return.

  2. Amari Rodgers (BHAM) had a great game, returning 4 punts for a total of 41 yards, averaging about 10 yards a return. His longest return was good for 15 yards but he could have also had this impressive return count if it wasn't for a foolish penalty.

  3. Jarey Elder (MEM) did not return any punts this week.

  4. Pooka Williams (DC) did not return any punts this week.

  5. Keke Coutee (DC) did not return any punts this week.

  6. Justin Hall (HOU) struggled, returning 2 punts for an average of just 3.5 yards per return.

  7. CJ Marable (BHAM) returned his first punt of the season, gaining 10 yards on the play.

  8. Devin Gray (MICH) did not return any punts this week but his replacement, De'Gabriel Floyd, struggled to field his only punt, returning it just 2 yards after he recovered his own fumble.

  9. Marquez Stevenson (SAN) did not return any punts this week.

 

Coverage Teams

  In Week 3, Coverage Teams allowed an average of 9.7 yards on Punt Returns and an average of 24.4 yards on Kickoff Returns. Only 4 penalties were handed out on Special Teams this week, totalling 35 yards. For the third week in a row, Coverage Teams have been able to record another blocked punt. Here are the UFL Week 3 Coverage Team Power Rankings;

Working top-down;

  1. The DC Defenders had another outstanding week, allowing just 20 yards across 4 Kickoff Returns. On their most impressive plays, they allowed just 10 yards on this return and 15 yards on this return. They did not receive any penalties for the first time this season.

  2. The Memphis Showboats allowed an average of 10 yards per return on 5 punts and an average of 20.5 yards across 4 kickoffs. While they performed fairly well this week, as seen on this punt return where they saved a potential touchdown, they did receive 2 penalties for a total of 15 yards.

  3. The St. Louis Battlehawks performed very well, allowing an average of just 19 yards across 6 kickoff returns. They remained penalty-free for the second straight week, rounding out the Top 3.

  4. The Michigan Panthers shined on punt returns, allowing an average of just 3.5 yards on 2 returns. They have, however, been struggling on kickoff returns allowing over 34 yards across 6 returns this week. They have yet to receive a penalty which is the only thing keeping inside the top 5.

  5. The San Antonio Brahmas struggled, allowing an average of 18.5 yards on 2 punt returns and an average of 30 yards on 5 kickoff returns. They will slide into the fifth position due to their poor performance, highlighting a need for improvement to keep their competitive edge.

  6. The Birmingham Stallions continued their positive trajectory, allowing an average of just 21.6 yards across 8 kickoff returns. They have turned a corner in the past 2 weeks and things are only looking better as they had this kickoff return that was kept inside the 20-yard line and another return that was kept inside the 30-yard line. Penalties continue to be a problem for the Stallions and will prevent them from climbing any higher in the Power Rankings.

  7. The Houston Roughnecks also had a good game compared to previous weeks, allowing just 2 yards on their lone punt return and an average of 20 yards over 6 kickoff returns. They are in the same situation as the Stallions, where penalties remain a limiting factor.

  8. The Arlington Renegades have been having a rough season and their position in the Power Rankings reflects that. Allowing an average of 28 yards across 6 kickoff returns highlights the need for something to change as they enter Week 4.

 

Individual ST Stats

  Here's who is making an impact on Special Teams;

 

Here are your most penalized Special Teams Players;

 

Holders

  In Week 3, there were 3 errant snaps, all of which were wrangled in by the Holders. Here are the UFL Week 3 Holder Power Rankings;

Working top-down;

  1. Matt White (MEM) secures the top spot after successfully handling this field goal snap that was delivered too high.

  2. Marquette King (ARL) did not have any errant snaps to contend with this week.

  3. Colby Wadman (BHAM) saved this 43-yard field goal after a high snap threatened the operation.

  4. Paxton Brooks (DC) was faced with a wobbly snap that he was able to get under control on this 54-yard field goal.

 

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