Over the last several years, Alabama has had some issues on special teams. Be it the bevy of missed field goals against LSU in the 9-6 Game of the Century in 2011 or the Kick Six last year against Auburn, these issues seem to crop up at the worst time for Nick Saban’s teams. Will they be an issue again in the SEC Championship against Missouri?

Alabama had a rough patch on special teams earlier this season, hitting a nadir against Ole Miss that included missed field goals, fumbled returns and poor coverage. They’ve cleaned up many of the problems, but the worry still lurks beneath the surface.

Let’s break down which facets on special teams will be an asset and what might be a liability for the Crimson Tide on Saturday.

Field goals

Alabama has tried out freshman Gunnar Raborn over the last two weeks, a pretty clear sign that the coaching staff is losing faith in Adam Griffith. The lack of trust isn’t unfounded; prior to being benched against Western Carolina, Griffith had missed a kick in six of the previous seven games. Oddly, half of Griffith’s misses have come from relatively close range, as he’s missed three kicks inside 40 yards. Alabama has only attempted six field goals longer than 40 yards, with Griffith going 3-for-6 on those attempts. With those concerns and the way the Tide’s offense is playing, kicking seems like a secondary option.


JK Scott has one of the best legs in the country as a freshman; he’s a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s best punter. He’s averaging 47.2 yards per punt, giving Alabama one of the best field position weapons in the game. It’s not often that the offense stalls out; Scott only averages 4 punts per game, but he showed against Auburn how valuable he is when he boomed a 70 yarder and downed another inside the Auburn 20. Opponents have been able to return less than a quarter of Alabama’s punts (10 of 45), averaging 7.3 yards per runback.

Christion Jones, Alabama’s primary punt returner, has made several critical mistakes this season. Against Arkansas, he was behind two turnovers on punts, making bad decisions in going after balls. He’s been better as the season as progressed, but the risk for mistakes is still present.


Griffith handled kickoff duties for the early part of the season, but Scott appears to have taken over that role for good; Griffith put his only kickoff against Auburn out of bounds, perhaps the final straw for him. On the whole, Alabama forces touchbacks just 28 percent of the time, with Scott averaging a touchback every three kicks (33 percent). Alabama gave up a touchdown return in the season opener — in the Georgia Dome, no less — but haven’t allowed one since. Opponents average 21.8 yards on 4.5 returns per game, while the Tide are middle of the pack nationally, allowing six returns for 30 or more yards.

Jones is Alabama’s main kick returner as well. He averages nearly 25 yards per runback, but is coming of his worst game of the season. Alabama’s had problems holding onto kick returns, as a Cyrus Jones fumble late against Ole Miss allowed the Rebels to punch in the game-winning score in the Tide’s only loss this season.