|« USD eyes next step after Nielsen exit||Ninth Annual Division I FCS ADA Scholar-Athletes of the Year Chosen »|
Polasek to coach NDSU’s special teams unit
North Dakota State running backs coach Tim Polasek added the title of recruiting coordinator last year. This spring, he’s added another one: special teams coordinator.
For the first time in Craig Bohl’s eight years as the Bison head coach, one person will be in charge of punts and kickoffs – the result of some inconsistent performances in the last couple of seasons.
“Especially the kickoff coverage and the kickoff return teams, those are the two that stand out with that question,” Polasek said.
So Bohl appointed Polasek to head them all, which came from a meeting between the two where Polasek said it was his idea. He worked with the punt and kickoff return teams.
Other coaches occupied other special teams areas. The theory, Bohl said, of having one guy in charge of all special teams is for the sake of unity.
“We were a little bit disjointed,” Bohl said. “I don’t think there was as much of a common theme running through our special teams, whether it was schematically or with personnel.”
NDSU ranked 23rd in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision in punt returns averaging 11.1 yards. But the Bison were average in the other categories – of the 118 teams, they were 60th in kickoff returns, 62nd in kickoff return defense, 69th in net punting and 78th in punt return defense.
Bohl will still work with the punters and kickers. NDSU went through three placekickers last year because of injuries and Polasek said that didn’t help with kickoff coverage, which gave up big yards early in the year, but got better.
He also said the Bison need to do a better job with returns with a recent trend of pooch and squib kickoffs.
“We have to create more consistency in our game versus those specialty kicks,” Polasek said.
Injuries didn’t help. A starting offensive or defensive player sidelined ordinarily means a special teams player gets his attention shifted to replacing the injured starter. But better recruiting the last couple of years should help, Polasek said.
“We’re better than where we were a year ago athletically as a whole,” he said.
By Jeff Kolpack