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  • Writer's pictureNoah Beausoleil

UFL Special Teams Power Rankings - A Week 5 Review

Week 5 of the UFL season was packed with special teams action, from electrifying kickoff returns to spot-on long snaps. Let's discuss how the UFL Special Teams units performed in this week's review;

 

Special Teams Player of the Week

Titus Swen - USFL Conference

After parting ways with Trey Williams, the Memphis Showboats have been experimenting with the returner position. Titus Swen appears to have won the job, being featured as the Showboat's primary kickoff returner this week. He fielded 7 kickoffs, averaging 27 yards per return, with 3 returns over 30 yards (43%). Swen has accumulated 285 return yards over 11 kickoffs through 2 weeks of play. Titus Swen is now tied for second place among UFL's kickoff returners with 36% of returns exceeding 30 yards. His big-play ability on special teams should spark the entire team and serve as a source of motivation as the season progresses.

 

Andre Szmyt - XFL Conference

Coming off of a week that saw him missing a 45-yard field goal, Andre Szmyt needed to build some confidence entering the second half of the season. He achieved just that in an electrifying 45-12 victory over the DC Defenders, successfully converting all 4 of his field goal attempts. Szmyt capitalized on opportunities under 40 yards, making all 3 of his attempts from that distance, including this 37-yard field goal early in the game. His longest field goal of the night was from 51 yards out, marking his third consecutive week of making 50+ yard kicks. Szmyt's impact didn't stop with field goals; in the third quarter, he would come back and record his first-ever kickoff touchback on this kickoff that travelled 80 yards into the endzone. While the missed field goal in Week 4 remains a minor blemish on his record, Andre consistently demonstrates his ability to overcome adversity and produce at an elite level in the UFL.

 

Kickers

  Kickers in the UFL struggled, successfully converting just 18 of their 24 combined attempts in Week 4. This was their worst performance of the 2024 season, with 6 misses, the first time more than 2 field goals were missed in a single week. There were no field goals that heavily influenced the outcome of any game and there was only 1 attempt over 50 yards. Here are the UFL Week 5 Kicker Power Rankings;

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  • Matt McCrane's (DC) lone 48-yard attempt sailed wide-left, ending his perfect streak after converting 10 consecutive field goals.

  • Andre Szmyt (STL) was one of just two kickers to convert all his attempts, and the sole kicker to make a 50+ yard field goal, earning him the Between The Goalposts Special Teams Player of the Week award.

  • Jake Bates (MICH) was unable to continue his perfect streak, going 1/3 on field goal attempts this week. Bates' misses look rough, but it must be noted that this was the first time in his career that he was kicking outside of a dome and the missed field goals were attempted from 58, and 62 yards out.

  • JJ Molson (HOU) joined Szmyt as the only perfect kicker in Week 5, successfully converting his only field goal from 36 yards.

  • Ryan Santoso (SAN) was 2/3 on field goals this week, recording a new career-long of 43 yards. His 45-yard attempt that sailed wide-right can be blamed on the broadcast booth, who jinxed him as he took the kick.

  • Jonathan Garibay (ARL) converted 3 of his 4 field goal attempts, with 1 of his attempts being blocked by the San Antonio Brahmas. While this "miss" will be recorded in his overall Field Goal Percentage, it will not be counted against him in the yardage category as it wasn't his fault. Garibay would come back later in the game to record a new career-long field goal from 47 yards away.

 

Punters

  There were a combined 25 punts in Week 5, with Punters averaging 39.4 yards and 28.8 net yards per attempt, marking their worst performance of the season. Only 16% of punts exceeded 50 yards, while over 28% travelled less than 40 yards. Despite these concerning numbers, Punters were able to pin 7 punts (28%) inside the 20-yard line, including 2 within the 10-yard line. Returners opted to call for a fair catch just 2 times, indicating that Punters may have struggled with hang time. Here are the UFL Week 5 Punter Power Rankings;

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  • Sterling Hofrichter (STL) found success flipping the field for the Battlehawks, averaging 41.7 yards and 35 net yards across 3 punts. He is currently only behind Drue Chrisman in terms of net yardage and over 55% of his punts land inside the 20-yard line, which leads the UFL. The cherry on top; he has yet to record a touchback or a punt out of bounds, which further highlights just how elite he is when it comes to directional punting.

  • Marquette King (ARL) punted the ball 3 times for an average of 52.7 yards and 37.3 net yards, though net yardage would have been even better if it wasnt for this 63-yard punt that landed behind the returner, resulting in a touchback.

  • Brad Wing (SAN) punted twice this week, averaging 47 yards and 36 net yards per punt, including this 46-yard punt that was downed at the 15-yard line. Wing did not practice on Wednesday and his status for Week 6 is uncertain due to a right knee injury.

  • Paxton Brooks (DC) struggled, averaging just 22.4 yards and 14.6 net yards per punt over 5 punts, two of which were blocked by the St. Louis Coverage Team. Brooks' best punt came early in the third quarter on this 52-yard punt that found the returner tackled at the 15-yard line after a 1-yard return.

  • Brock Miller (MICH) punted 4 times, averaging 41 yards per punt but just 25 net yards, struggling to keep the ball out of the endzone. In the last two weeks, 4 of his 10 attempts (40%) were brought out to the opponent's 25-yard line. It is worth mentioning one of these 4 punts would have been considered a coffin corner punt in any other league, but in the UFL, it is treated as a touchback and brought out to the 25-yard line.

  • Drue Chrisman (BHAM) made his debut this week, replacing an injured Colby Wadman. He impressed during his limited opportunities, averaging 48 yards and 43 net yards over 2 punts, even recording his first-ever tackle on his first-ever UFL punt. The Stallions have seemingly found their guy, releasing Colby Wadman just days after the game.

 

Kickoff Specialists

  In Week 5, there were 44 kickoffs recorded, with specialists averaging about 68.6 yards per attempt. They were able to launch 17 kickoffs (39%) over 70 yards, including 4 touchbacks, which is the most we've seen in a single week. However, only 8 kickoffs (18%) stayed inside the 30-yard line, suggesting Coverage Teams faced challenges in limiting return opportunities Here are the UFL Week 5 Kickoff Specialist Power Rankings;

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  • Ramiz Ahmed (BHAM) climbs 5 positions in the Power Rankings after kicking off 7 times for a total of 524 yards, averaging about 75 yards per attempt. He had a truly elite game, with over 71% of his kickoffs travelling for more than 70 yards, including 2 that were recorded as touchbacks. Ahmed now leads the UFL in kickoff average and kickoffs kept inside the 30-yard line.

  • Jake Bates (MICH) kicked off 7 times, averaging 70 yards per attempt. He leads the UFL in the percentage of kickoffs travelling further than 70 yards, with over 71% travelling the distance.

  • Ryan Santoso (SAN) kicked off 6 times for an average of 68 yards per attempt. He was able to show off his placement and leg strength with 2 kickoffs traveling over 70 yards and staying inside the 30-yard line, including his second 80-yard touchback of the year.

  • JJ Molson (HOU) continued in the right direction, with 2 of his 3 kickoffs travelling for over 70 yards, including 1 that remained inside the 30-yard line.

  • Andre Szmyt (STL) has struggled with kickoffs throughout the season, averaging just 65.6 yards across 27 attempts. This week he kicked off 6 times for an average of 64.7 yards, including his first-ever 80-yard touchback. Hofrichter was given kickoff responsibilities late in the game but performed even worse, averaging just 62.3 yards per kickoff, including 1 that was penalized for rolling out of bounds.

 

Long Snappers

  For the first time in the 2024 season, all 20 of the highlighted long snaps were recorded as Strikes, marking the best performance Long Snappers have ever had in a single week. There were a total of 16 field goal snaps and 4 punt snaps recorded with 2 long snappers also assisting on coverage teams. Here are the UFL Week 5 Long Snapper Power Rankings;

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  • Jordan Ober (MICH) was not the reason Bates struggled this week, with both of his highlighted snaps recorded as Strikes. He continues to put the ball exactly where it needs to be in high-pressure field goal situations, and Ober was able to record an assisted tackle, leading the league in coverage post-snap.

  • Rex Sunahara (SAN) remains perfect on field goal snaps, delivering 2 more Strikes in Week 5.

  • Alex Matheson (STL) threw perfect Strikes on all 4 of his Field Goal snaps but remains in the third position in the Power Rankings due to questions surrounding his punt snap abilities. Recording some punt highlights could break him into the Top 2.

  • Ryan Langan (BHAM) has returned to form after a challenging stretch, with all 3 of his long snap highlights being recorded as Strikes.

  • Antonio Ortiz (ARL) has struggled in the first half of the season but showed flashes of greatness this week, with all 3 of his long snaps being recorded as strikes. The blocked field goal was not his fault, and the pressure came from the edge of the line, therefore he will not be penalized too heavily for it.

  • Trae Barry (DC) had a rough week, and while all 4 of his snaps were recorded as Strikes, the Defenders Punt Unit had 2 of their punts blocked due to messy blocking by the line.

 

Kickoff Returners

  Returners handled 40 kickoffs this week, averaging about 24.8 yards per return, including a long of 58 yards. They managed to return 25% of kickoffs over 30 yards, which is the highest seen in a single week. Unfortunately, there were 2 fumbles this week. Here are the UFL Week 5 Kickoff Returner Power Rankings;

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  • Darrius Shepherd (STL) remains the most efficient kickoff returner despite missing Week 5 with an injury.

  • Isiah Hennie (HOU) had 2 kickoff returns this week, with 1 travelling 44 yards and the other resulting in a muffed ball that rolled out of bounds at the 13-yard line.

  • Titus Swen (MEM) was one of the most impressive kickoff returners in Week 5 and his outstanding performance earned him the Between The Goalposts Special Teams Player of the Week award.

  • Tre Williams remains in the Top 5 despite not playing for a UFL team in over 2 weeks.

  • Blake Jackson (STL) returned 3 kickoffs, stepping up to replace an injured Darrius Shepherd, averaging 38 yards per return. His first return of the season was good for over 55 yards, with another impressive 45-yard return later in the game.

  • Juwan Manigo (ARL) struggled for the second consecutive week, averaging just 17.2 yards across 5 kickoff returns.

  • Galvin Holmes (MICH) was featured as the primary returner for the Panthers, returning 4 kickoffs for an average of 31.8 yards, including a long of 53 yards.

 

Punt Returners

  There were 18 punts fielded in Week 5, with Returners averaging 10 yards per return. A total of 5 returns (28%) exceeded 15 yards, with a longest return of 27 yards. There was also a single punt return fumble recorded. Here are the UFL Week 5 Punt Returner Power Rankings;

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  • Amari Rodgers (BHAM) continues to excel, returning 3 punts for a total of 41 yards, averaging about 13.7 per return. He records another punt return over 15 yards in Week 5, bringing Rodgers' total to 5 on the season, which leads the league.

  • Steven Mitchell Jr. (STL) returned a single punt for 27 yards, further proving the point that the Battlehawks will be fine if Shepherd misses multiple games with injury.

  • Vinny Papale (MEM) recorded a new season-long punt return of 17 yards.

  • Galvin Holmes (MICH) returned 2 punts for a total of 24 yards, with his first return accounted for all 24 yards. He would go on to muff the second return, leading to the opponents gaining possession.

 

Coverage Teams

  During Week 5, Coverage Teams allowed an average of 10 yards on 18 punt returns and 25.4 yards across 39 kickoff returns. Factoring in penalties, of which 5 were received for 50 yards, the adjusted average yards allowed stands at 21.4, aligning closely with the league average for the season. There were 3 blocks in one week for the first time, including 2 punt blocks and 1 field goal block. Here are the UFL Week 5 Coverage Team Power Rankings;

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  • The St. Louis Battlehawks were amazing, allowing an average of just 6.7 yards over 3 punts and 20 yards across 8 kickoff returns. Their standout performance also included blocking 2 punts, one by Nico Bolden who was signed just days before the game.

  • The DC Defenders have been dethroned after an abysmal performance in Week 5, allowing an average of 13 yards over 3 punts and 38 yards across 3 kickoffs. They also received a penalty for unnecessary roughness, totalling 10 yards.

  • The San Antonio Brahmas were excellent in Week 5, allowing an average of 6 yards on 2 punt returns and 17.2 yards across 5 kickoffs. They also managed to record the first blocked field goal in the UFL. Despite receiving a penalty for unnecessary roughness, totalling 15 yards, it was still their best week as a unit.

  • The Memphis Showboats had another poor performance, allowing an average of 12 yards on 2 punt returns and 31.8 yards across 4 kickoff returns.

  • The Michigan Panthers broke their streak of games without penalties on special teams, receiving 2 penalties for a total of 10 yards.

 

Individual ST Stats

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

 

Here are your most penalized Special Teams Players;

 

Holders

  There were no errant snaps this week. Here are the UFL Week 5 Holder Power Rankings;

 

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