Andy Hodges

Razorbacks’ long dry run of failure on punt returns should end with Burks

Having a special teams coach for the first time in awhile in Scott Fountain could pay off big dividends for the Hogs, especiall in punt returns where Treylon Burks could break a dry spell.

It didn’t really dawn on me until one of Andrew Hutchinson’s stat stories at got my attention earlier that Arkansas hasn’t had a punt return touchdown since 2011.

Well, technically it was early 2012 when Joe Adams returned a punt against Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl following the 2011 season.

You would think over eight seasons the Razorbacks could have gotten one into the end zone completely by accident. I mean, they let North Texas bring one back in 2018 by faking a fair catch.

That’s one of the examples of the breakdowns in nearly a decade of futility when you really don’t have a special teams coach.

For all of last season the media was not allowed to take pictures or film special teams drills in the first period of practices. The guess was it wasn’t to hide the intricate nature of the jump pass fake punt that blew up spectacularly against Auburn.

I say all that to point out part of what was, in my opinion, the failure of the previous two staffs to really understand what they were doing. Special teams is a full third of the game and I’ve never seen a championship team that was horrible in every phase of special teams.

There’s no home cooking in saying Treylon Burks is going to end that run of failure for the Hogs.

In his first season in Fayetteville, Burks returned a dozen punts for 130 yards, which is a little over a first down on every return. He had a long return of 32 yards against Texas A&M where all the folks in Warren were assuming he was headed to the end zone.

The talented freshman has a unique way of catching the ball over his head instead of like using a basket, size 4XL hands and the speed. He had several returns that could have been big with one block.

Burks has a way of making at least one person miss.

With a full-time special teams coach now in Scott Fountain and it will be interesting to see where the improvements are in that area this year.

One thing that’s for certain is he’s had plenty of time to look at every special teams play from the last several seasons if he wanted to, not just last year.

It’s probably a good guess Burks not getting into the end zone jumped out.

And it’s a stat that probably will change.

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