A lot of the talk through the first two games for Oklahoma has been focused on the inconsistent quarterback play and the rejuvenation of the defense.
Not to get lost in the shuffle, the special teams under first-year coach Jay Boulware have been solid for the Sooners. They’re not where he wants them to be, but OU is off to a good start under Boulware.
Boulware addressed the media for the first time this season and introduced his “E4” philosophy when it comes to special teams.
“We preach ‘E4’ in our room,” Boulware said. “We preach energy, energize, play with an edge and execute. When we do that on special teams it makes our team better.
“They’re trying to get the crowd going when they go out there for kickoff because when they make a play and that crowd erupts, you’ve created energy in the whole football team.”
Boulware said creating energy is so important in regards to special teams. It’s easy for his players to have that energy because Boulware isn’t lacking in that department, either.
“It isn’t just something I say about let’s have energy,” Boulware said. “It’s in everything I do. We coach with energy on special teams.
“It means something to me for Oklahoma to be the best in the country for special teams. We’re nowhere near that now, but down the road people are going to turn around and say they play great special teams.”
Right now Boulware is still figuring out what he wants from his special teams. His goals aren’t set in stone. He does have one goal: be good.
“I want to be good at something,” Boulware said. “Until we’re able to get good at one thing, I’m just telling him to kick it deep right now. Until we’re at the point where we have a consistent guy who can do multiple thing with the ball, I just telling him to focus on one job.”
And that’s something Boulware stressed. Jed Barnett’s only job is to punt. Nick Hodgson’s only job is to kick the ball off. He doesn’t have to worry about field goals, Boulware said. His goal is to boot it through the end zone.
Nobody has to do too much. Everybody does their little part to help the whole do its job. Through two games, it has worked out fine.
Barnett has averaged 44 yards per kick. Only one of those has been returned, a whopping minus-2-yard return. Kickoff coverage has been solid, too. Hodgson had all touchbacks vs. ULM and West Virginia averaged a mere 15 yards per return.
But for Boulware, ever the perfectionist, it is still not enough.
“We want to average the 22, 21 yard line starting point,” Boulware said. Unfortunately, the touchbacks starting at the 25 kind of go against that right now. The last game I think their average starting point was the 19.5 yard line, but you know that at the 28 just ticked me off. One of these days our kickoff coverage team will be really dangerous.”