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LSU Football 2016 Position Previews: Special Teams

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LSU v Texas A&M Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

LSU loses last season’s main leg in Trent Domingue, who transferred to Texas as a graduate student when his scholarship was not renewed. While Domingue was LSU’s main field-goal kicker last season, he wasn’t exactly the most reliable, particularly on kickoffs. This is something of a clean-slate area for LSU, and a unit that is in dire need of it.

Specialists

Name

Height/Weight

2015 Season

42 Colby Delahoussaye (Sr.), K

5-9, 182

No game appearances in 2015.

36 Cameron Gamble (Jr.), K

5-10, 197

Averaged 57.4 yards on 43 kickoffs with 5 touchbacks and two kicks out of bounds.

35 Jack Gonsoulin (RS-Fr.), K

5-9, 165

Redshirted.

34 Connor Culp (Fr.), K

5-11, 186

Three-star recruit.

50 Blake Ferguson (RS-Fr.) SNP

6-3, 221

Redshirted.

31 Josh Growden (RS-Fr.) P

6-2, 197

Redshirted.

Colby Delahoussaye returns to the spotlight, and not just because of his brush with death in the horrible car wreck that claimed two other kickers’ lives in July. He appears to be the odds-on favorite to take back the place-kicking duties he held for all of 2013 and much of 2014, before he came down with a weird case of the yips and suddenly began struggling with even short field goals, giving way to Domingue. Delahoussaye was fantastic in 2013, when he made 13-of-14 kicks and 56-of-57 extra points. If he could rediscover that form, LSU would be in good hands.

His competition comes from fellow upperclassmen Cameron Gamble and freshmen Jack Gonsoulin and Connor Culp. Gamble had previously shown a big-time leg on kickoffs, but struggled with it last year. He’d like to get in on place-kicking duties if possible, but that seems unlikely based on track record. As it is, there’s talk of Culp taking over kickoff duties. The Arizona product was the ninth-ranked prospect in the 2016 class, and reportedly has a big leg himself.

Aussie punter version 3.0 Josh Growden appears to have the punting job to himself, save for some walk-on competition, but he is a complete unknown. We didn’t even get much of a look at him in the spring game.

Classmate Blake Ferguson takes over at long-snapper after four years of his older brother Reid. If he does his job, you’ll likely never hear his name called.

Kick Returners

18 Tre’davious White (Sr.)

5-11, 191

Returned 20 punts for 229 yards (11.4 average) and 1 touchdown with two lost fumbles.

5 Derrius Guice (Soph.)

5-11, 222

Returned 20 kickoffs for 472 yards (23.6 average).

1 Donte Jackson (Soph.)

5-11, 167

Returned 4 punts for 6 yards and 8 kickoffs for 165 yards.

Tre’davious White is certainly a dangerous punt returner, it’s just a two-way street. His 11.4 average is very good, and when he has room to operate he can be explosive. But his judgment on which balls to pursue, fair catch and avoid completely is a consistent issue, one that cost LSU points against Florida last season.

Derrius Guice, on the other hand, improved as the season went on as a kickoff returner, making a couple of very exciting plays down the stretch once he learned to let his blocks develop a little more in front of him. Donte Jackson should backup both, and his speed would be a great asset at either spot.

Depth Chart

Place Kicker

Kickoffs

Punter

Kick Returner

Punt Returner

Colby Delahoussaye
Connor Culp OR Cameron Gamble
Jack Gonsoulin

Connor Culp
Cameron Gamble

Josh Growden

Derrius Guice
Donte Jackson

Tre White
Donte Jackson

Possible X-Factor: nowhere to go but up.

The good news here is that LSU, literally, cannot get a whole lot worse in this area of the game. That’s not exactly much of a ringing endorsement, but with some new legs involved on kickoffs and a new infusion of talent on the coverage teams -- including linebackers, safeties and defensive backs that should be (theoretically) much better at understanding pursuit angles and making tackles. But whether LSU gets back to where we’re used to seeing it with the kicking game remains a big variable. Honestly, it just may come down to a number of players deciding they want to make their mark there.