Texas A&M Football Receives Commitment from Aussie Punter; Continues Special Teams Makeover
After several years under Jimbo Fisher where the special teams were a definite strength for Texas A&M football, the last two years of his regime saw things begin to slip in that regard. In 2021, the Aggies ended the year with the 4th-ranked special teams unit in the nation per SP+, no doubt bolstered by Devon Achane's electric kick return against Alabama and Ainias Smith's punt return against South Carolina just three weeks later.
Since then, though, things have really fallen off. The Aggies finished 55th in special teams rating in 2022. Poor play in the third phase is directly responsible for at least one loss, as Xavier Legette returning the opening kickoff in the South Carolina game ended up being the difference in a six-point loss. Missed kicks, blocked kicks, poor punts, and other issues all popped up from time to time.
It was even worse this season, as the Aggies' special teams finished with the ignominious ranking of 72nd. This was an upgrade over the midseason ranking, though, when they were as low as 105th in the country. The dropoff in quality was evident, leading to the lack of a special teams coach on the Aggie staff becoming a big talking point for the fanbase.
In my estimation, this was more characteristic of the general lack of attention to detail that characterized the latter part of Jimbo's tenure; the Aggies had a good ST unit without a dedicated coach at one point. Even so, I'm a fan of not only the fact that Elko hired a coach for that aspect of the team, but the man he hired in Patrick Dougherty.
As evidence of the concerted effort to remake the special teams for the Aggies, it looks like Texas A&M football will be bringing in some competition to the room. Australian punter Keegan Andrews has announced his commitment to the Aggies.
As mentioned in the above tweet, Andrews will be competing with Tyler White for the starting job. I've expected big things out of White since he arrived on campus, as he showed a practically rocket-powered leg on some of his kicks in high school.
The addition of a guy like Andrews will drive up competition and make the whole team better—something that we've seen Elko practice as a philosophy at other positions on the team as well. The commitment of Andrews is a solid pickup for the Aggies.
Also, Aussie punters are cool.