Pac-12: Darragh O'Neill

Spring position breakdown: Punters

March, 11, 2014
3/11/14
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Our look at position groups in the Pac-12 concludes with punters.

Arizona: Drew Riggleman is back after handling all of the punting responsibilities last season. He averaged 40.1 yards per kick, pinned 18 inside the 20 and had 12 kicks of 50-plus yards. He ranked eighth in the conference -- though the difference between first (Utah’s Tom Hackett) and Riggleman was an average of 3.4 yards.

Arizona State: Punting was one of ASU’s biggest issues last season. Matt Haack started to come on strong at the end of the season and will likely challenge Alex Garoutte, who averaged 38.8 yards per kick last season. Should Haack win the job, Garoutte is always an option with his rollout style. Quarterback Taylor Kelly has also been known to offer the occasional boot. He punted six times last season, once for 50-plus, and had three downed inside the 20.

California: Cole Leininger is back after a very solid season for the Golden Bears, where he was tied for second in the conference with an average of 42.9 yards per kick. Cal has four punters on the roster in addition to Leininger. And while he’s mostly unchallenged, there are plenty of backup options.

Colorado: Third-team all-conference punter Darragh O'Neill returns and was a midseason Ray Guy candidate last season. He averaged 40.5 yards per punt last year and pinned 22 inside the 20.

Oregon: Alejandro Maldonado handled the punting duties last season and made a couple of appearances as a kicker before the job went to Matt Wogan. Expect Wogan to handle all kicking responsibilities, though some walk-ons will also get looks.

Oregon State: Keith Kostol is back as a third-year starter. He finished last season tied for fifth in the conference with an average of 40.5 yards per punt. He also put 23 kicks inside the 20.

Stanford: Ben Rhyne returns to handle the punting duties for the Cardinal. He was one of the best in the conference last season with an average of 42.9 yards per kick -- just half a yard behind Hackett. He had 12 kicks of 50-plus yards and put 15 inside the 20.

UCLA: Sean Covington is back after having a very solid season, where he posted an average of 42.6 yards per punt. Do-it-all quarterback Brett Hundley punted once last season, but it’s safe to assume that Convington’s job is secure.

USC: Kris Albarado didn’t post an impressive yards-per-punt average (37.1), but he was very good at pinning opponents, with 27 kicks inside the 20. And of his 64 kicks, almost half were fair-caught.

Utah: Hackett was last season's first-team all-conference punter, so expect some preseason All-American hype for him. As noted earlier, he led the conference with an average of 43.4 yards per punt and buried 27 kicks inside the 20.

Washington: Travis Coons pulled double-duty last season. In addition to nailing 15 of 16 field goal attempts, he also averaged 40.4 yards per punt and had eight kicks of 50-plus yards to go with 23 inside the 20. Korey Durkee did some punting in 2012 before Coons won the job, so he’ll get the first look in 2014. Newcomer Tristan Vizcaino could also get looks at kicker and/or punter.

Washington State: Wes Concepcion was the starter in the final two games as punter last season. With Mike Bowlin gone, he should be the favorite to handle punting duties full time. Concepcion punted 12 times last season for an average of 36.2 yards. Eight of those 12 were fair catches and three were inside the 20.

Previous positions

Kicker
Safety
Cornerback
Linebacker
Defensive end
Tight end
Quarterback
Running back
Receiver
Offensive line
Defensive tackle

Colorado Buffaloes season preview

August, 16, 2013
8/16/13
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We continue our day-by-day snapshots of each Pac-12 team heading into the 2013 season in reverse alphabetical order with the Colorado Buffaloes.

Colorado

Coach: Mike MacIntyre (16-21, 0-0 at Colorado)

2012 record: 1-11, 1-8 Pac-12 South

Key losses: OT David Bakhtiari, TE Nick Kasa, OLB Jon Major, DT Will Pericak, FS Ray Polk.

[+] EnlargeMike MacIntyre
AP Photo/Brennan LinsleyMike MacIntyre is charged with turning around Colorado after making a winner out of San Jose State.
Key returnees: C Gus Handler, TB Christian Powell, WR Tyler McCulloch, S Marques Mosley, DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, P Darragh O'Neill, WR Paul Richardson, Derrick Webb.

Newcomer to watch: It’s too early to tell which one, but three freshmen wide receivers -- Elijah Dunston, Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo (ironically numbered 1, 2 and 3) -- are all making a case to be in the rotation and two-deep.

Biggest games in 2013: The season opener against Colorado State (Sept. 1) is always a big one, and the rivalry with Utah (Nov. 30) is starting to take shape.

Biggest question mark: While no official word has come down on who will start at quarterback, it’s looking more and more like Connor Wood will at least begin the season as the starter. So we can at least put a partial check mark there. The biggest question is really what sort of progress -- if any -- we’ll see in Mike MacIntyre’s first season as the new head coach. He comes in with solid credentials and was Mr. Fix-It at San Jose State. But with the new job comes a new set of challenges. Chief among them, the proverbial challenge of “changing the culture.” MacIntyre made it clear that he wants to win and compete immediately, and he believes that his players have bought in. We’ll see how much on Sept. 1.

Forecast: The media doesn’t have much faith in the Buffs, picking the team that went 1-11 last season to finish last again in the Pac-12 South. This might be one of those situations in which the team shows improvement -- just not in the win department. Remember, San Jose State appeared to take a step back in MacIntyre’s first season, going 1-12, but it was during that time that he was establishing his schemes and philosophies, and in Year 2 they went 5-7. By the third season, the Spartans were 11-2 (10-2 under MacIntyre) and ranked in the top 25. No one is saying the Buffs will be ranked in three seasons, and most people probably aren't expecting it. The Pac-12 is a different animal than the now football-less WAC, but it's not wrong to hope for a postseason berth in the next 3-5 seasons.

And this season, the Buffs are loaded with young players who gained a ton of experience last season. They return 17 starters (eight offense, nine defense) including a young secondary that took its licks last season. Mosley, Kenneth Crawley and Yuri Wright all started last season, and Greg Henderson and Parker Orms are the veterans of the group. Up front defensively, Uzo-Diribe is a talented pass-rusher, and linebackers Derrick Webb and Paul Vigo should be the anchors on defense.

Offensively, they lose Bakhtiari to the NFL and Alex Lewis announced a transfer, which was followed by some bizarre and unfortunate circumstances. But they get Richardson back after he missed all of 2012 with a knee injury. When he’s healthy, he’s one of the most explosive wide receivers in the country and should give the Buffs a stretch-the-field threat they were lacking.

Powell also quietly put together a strong second half last season, posting a pair of 100-yard games and four touchdowns over the final five. If they can plug the left side of the line (it’s looking like veteran Jack Harris at left tackle and Kaiwi Crabb at left guard), he could inch closer to 1,000 yards on the ground after posting 691 and a 4.4 yards per carry average last season.

There is talent on Colorado’s roster, but, as what's becoming a trend with Colorado, fans are going to have to be patient until the new staff figures out how best to use it.
Those who fail to learn from the brutal stompings visited on them in the past are doomed to be brutally stomped in the future.
More preseason watch list news. Today we turn to the kickers and punters with the announcements of the Lou Groza watch list for the nation's top placekicker, and the Ray Guy watch list for the nation's top punter.

Here's the Pac-12 guys:

Lou Groza
Ray Guy

Romaine was the Pac-12's most accurate kicker last season, converting 88.9 percent of his kicks, and he enters 2013 having hit 12 straight. Furney, a Groza semifinalist in 2011, had the nation's longest field goal last season (60 yards).

Last year O'Neill averaged 43.5 yards per punt, and Bowlin and Kostol each averaged 41.9

You can see the full lists here: Lou Groza and Ray Guy.

Pac-12 2012 awards announced

November, 26, 2012
11/26/12
5:50
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The Pac-12 conference has announced its 2012 individual honors and all-conference first and second teams as voted on by the coaches.

Offensive Player of the Year: Marqise Lee, WR, USC.
Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year: Will Sutton, DE, Arizona State.
Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon.
Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: Leonard Williams, DE, USC.
Coach of the Year: David Shaw, Stanford.

FIRST-TEAM OFFENSE

QB Marcus Mariota, Fr., Oregon
RB Kenjon Barner, Sr., Oregon
RB Ka’Deem Carey, So., Arizona
WR Marqise Lee, So., USC
WR Markus Wheaton, Sr., Oregon State
TE Zach Ertz, Sr., Stanford
OL Hroniss Grasu, So., Oregon
OL Khaled Holmes, Sr., USC
OL Brian Schwenke, Sr., California
OL Xavier Su’a-Filo, So., UCLA
OL David Yankey, Jr., Stanford

SECOND-TEAM OFFENSE

QB Matt Scott, Sr., Arizona
RB Johnathan Franklin, Sr., UCLA
RB Stepfan Taylor, Sr., Stanford
WR Austin Hill, So., Arizona
WR Robert Woods, Jr., USC
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, So., Washington
OL Jeff Baca, Sr., UCLA
OL David Bakhtiari, Jr., Colorado
OL Sam Brenner, Sr., Utah
OL Kevin Danser, Sr., Stanford
OL Sam Schwartzstein, Sr., Stanford

FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE

DL Scott Crichton, So., Oregon State
DL Dion Jordan, Sr., Oregon
DL Star Lotulelei, Sr., Utah (2)
DL Will Sutton, Jr., Arizona State
LB Anthony Barr, Jr., UCLA
LB Trent Murphy, Sr., Stanford
LB Chase Thomas, Sr., Stanford (2)
DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, So., Oregon
DB Jordan Poyer, Sr., Oregon State
DB Ed Reynolds, Jr., Stanford
DB Desmond Trufant, Sr., Washington

SECOND-TEAM DEFENSE

DL Henry Anderson, Jr., Stanford
DL Morgan Breslin, Jr., USC
DL Ben Gardner, Sr., Stanford
DL Datone Jones, Sr., UCLA
LB Kiko Alonso, Sr., Oregon
LB Michael Clay, Sr., Oregon
LB Brandon Magee, Sr., Arizona State
DB Deone Bucannon, Jr., Washington State
DB Alden Darby, Jr., Arizona State
DB T.J. McDonald, Sr., USC
DB Nickell Robey, Jr., USC

FIRST-TEAM SPECIALISTS

PK Vince D'Amato, Jr., California
P Jeff Locke, Sr., UCLA
RS Reggie Dunn, Sr., Utah
ST Jordan Jenkins, Sr., Oregon State

SECOND-TEAM SPECIALISTS

PK Andrew Furney, Jr., Washington State
P Josh Hubner, Sr., Arizona State
RS Marqise Lee, So., USC
ST David Allen, Sr., UCLA

ALL-PAC-12 HONORABLE MENTION
NOTES
  • By School: OREGON and STANFORD placed the most players on the first team with five selections each, followed by OREGON STATE with four.
  • By Class: Of the 26 first-team selections, 14 are seniors, five are juniors, six are sophomores and one freshman.
  • Unanimous: Only one player was named on the first-team ballot of all 12 head coaches--WR Marqise Lee of USC.
  • Two-time selections: Two players are repeat first-team selections from last year--DT Star Lotulelei of Utah, LB Chase Thomas of Stanford.
  • All-Academic: Two players were named to the first team on both the All-Pac-12 Team and the Pac-12 All-Academic Football Team--P Jeff Locke of UCLA, OL Khaled Holmes, USC. In addition, OL Kevin Danser of Stanford, DL Ben Gardner of Stanford and Michael Clay of Oregon were named second-team All-Academic and second-team All-Pac-12.
Tags:

Datone Jones, USC Trojans, Washington State Cougars, Oregon State Beavers, Washington Huskies, UCLA Bruins, Alex Debniak, Johnathan Franklin, Jeff Locke, Arizona State Sun Devils, Joseph Fauria, Matt Barkley, California Bears, Kenjon Barner, Usua Amanam, Markus Wheaton, Keelan Johnson, Stanford Cardinal, Jordan Poyer, Damien Thigpen, Will Sutton, Stepfan Taylor, Colorado Buffaloes, Wes Horton, Dion Jordan, Matt Scott, Arizona Wildcats, Brandon Magee, Oregon Ducks, Xavier Su\'a-Filo, Travis Long, Justin Glenn, Desmond Trufant, Vince D'Amato, Daniel Simmons, Chase Thomas, Deveron Carr, Shayne Skov, Evan Finkenberg, Isaac Remington, Dan Buckner, Sean Parker, Cassius Marsh, Robert Woods, Xavier Grimble, George Uko, Nickell Robey, Hayes Pullard, Keenan Allen, Taylor Kelly, Chris McCain, Hroniss Grasu, Eric Kendricks, Xavier Cooper, T.J. McDonald, Jake Fischer, Anthony Barr, Taylor Hart, Kiko Alonso, Osahon Irabor, Brian Schwenke, Steve Williams, Terrance Mitchell, Drew Schaefer, Michael Clay, Ryan Hewitt, Jordan Jenkins, Levine Toilolo, Chris Coyle, DeAnthony Thomas, Andrew Abbott, Kyle Quinn, Brett Hundley, Jake Fisher, Terrence Stephens, Terrence Brown, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Kasen Williams, Jordan Richards, Shaq Evans, Deone Bucannon, Tony Burnett, David Shaw, Bishop Sankey, Danny Shelton, Marqise Lee, Kevin Danser, Rashad Ross, Sam Schwartzstein, David Yankey, Drew Terrell, John White IV, Dion Bailey, Austin Hill, Star Lotulelei, Brian Blechen, Jake Murphy, Alex Carter, Alden Darby, Joe Kruger, Reggie Dunn, Trevor Romaine, Colt Lyerla, Isaac Seumalo, Tevita Stevens, Andrew Furney, Andre Heidari, Sean Sellwood, Josh Hubner, Kyle Negrete, Henry Anderson, Scott Crichton, Rashaad Reynolds, Ka'Deem Carey, Shaq Thompson, D.J. Foster, Brendan Bigelow, Ben Gardner, Trevor Reilly, Darragh O'Neill, Andrew Hudson, Ty Montgomery, Cameron Fleming, Trent Murphy, Sam Brenner, Kevin Hogan, David Bakhtiari, Marcus Mariota, Yuri Wright, Kenneth Crawley, Leonard Williams, Grant Enger, Brandin Cooks, Jared Tevis, Travis Feeney, Avery Sebastian, John Martinez, Ed Reynolds, Daniel Munyer, Elliott Bosch, Morgan Breslin, Darryl Monroe, Marion Grice, Carl Bradford, Nate Fakahafua, Silas Redd, Jeremiah Poutasi, Jake Brendel, Christian Powell, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Brett Bartolone, Teondray Caldwell, Andrew Seumalo, Daniel Zychlinski, David Allen, Jaxon Hood, Alex Lewis, Marques Moseley, Will Perciak, Wade Keliikippi, Cyrus Coen

Punters are often overlooked, at least until they mess up badly and shank one. But punters play a major role in field position, which often proves crucial in a tight game.

So how do things stack up at punter in the Pac-12?

By the way, if you want to review previous position reviews, go here.

Great shape

Oregon: Jackson Rice was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award. The Ducks were No. 1 in the nation in net punting last year. Really not much else to say.

[+] EnlargeJackson Rice
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireAs a Ray Guy finalist last season, Jackson Rice had Oregon tops in the NCAA in net punting.
Arizona: Kyle Dugandzic led the Pac-12 with an average of 46 yards per punt.

Utah: Sean Sellwood was fourth in the Pac-12 with an average of 45 yards per boot. And the Utes were 12th in the nation in net punting.

UCLA: UCLA's Jeff Locke averaged 44.3 yards per punt, which ranked fifth in the conference. The Bruins were 22nd in the nation in net punting. Locke is also good on kickoffs.

Good shape

Colorado: Darragh O'Neill was solid last year with a 42.6-yard average, but he's being challenged by Zach Grossnickle.

Arizona State: While Josh Hubner only averaged 41.3 yards per punt, the Sun Devils were fifth in the conference in opponent punt returns.

USC: Kyle Negrete averaged a modest 40.1 yards per punt in 2011. The Trojans were 43rd in the nation in net punting.

We'll see

Stanford: Daniel Zychlinski was Stanford's starting punter for the first 10 games in 2010 before David Green took over. He averaged 41.7 yards in 2010.

Washington State: JC transfer Mike Bowlin will take care of punting and kickoffs. He looked good this spring.

Oregon State: Australian Tim McMullen was No. 1 on the post-spring depth chart. Hopefully he is as colorful as the departed Johnny Hekker. Keith Kostol is another possibility.

Washington: The Huskies are counting on touted incoming freshman Korey Durkee to replace Kiel Rasp.

California: The Bears are only replacing Bryan Anger, perhaps the best punter in school history. On the post-spring depth chart, incoming freshman Cole Leininger was the only punter listed.

Weekend rewind: Pac-12

September, 19, 2011
9/19/11
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Taking stock of the third week of games and looking ahead to Week 4.

[+] EnlargeChaz Walker
AP Photo/Colin E BraleyUtah linebacker Chaz Walker, left, upends BYU receiver Ross Apo during the Utes' 54-10 rout of the Cougars.
Team of the week: Is there anything better than stomping your bitter rival in their own building? Answer: No (Well, touring the Mediterranean in your own yacht might be better, but it's close). The Utes' 54-10 crushing of BYU surely was great fun for the visiting team, particularly after the tough loss at USC. And it was meaningful because it was the first meeting between the two after Utah got invited to join the Pac-12 and BYU didn't (insert your own raspberry there, Utes fans, if you wish).

Best game: A limited choice here in a weekend of blowouts, both in Pac-12 wins and losses. We're going to go with Arizona State's 17-14 loss at Illinois. Sure, the Sun Devils lost, and they didn't play particularly well. But it was the only game that was undecided deep into the fourth quarter.

Biggest play: With 1:39 left before halftime in a tie game, Washington punted to Nebraska. Tim Marlowe called for a fair catch but muffed the catch, and the Huskies recovered. But the officials called the Huskies for interference. It one of those so clearly incorrect calls that it inspires fan suspicions -- "Hmm... Big Ten crew." Nebraska drove for a late field goal, the first three of 27 consecutive points.

[Edit note: The original post said incorrectly that the Huskies scored a TD on the muffed punt. As some have pointed out, you can't advance a muffed punt].

Offensive standout: USC quarterback Matt Barkley completed 26 of 39 passes for 324 yards for five touchdowns with no interceptions in USC's 38-17 win against Syracuse.

Defensive standout: Utah linebacker Trevor Reilly had five tackles, two sacks, three tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles in the Utes' blowout victory against BYU. He also recovered a fumble and broke up a pass.

Special teams standout: Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson was 3-for-3 on field goals at Arizona with a long of 45 yards, and he was 4 for 4 on PATs. Sure, Arizona coach Mike Stoops looked longingly at the redshirt freshman, seeing his kicker was 1 of 3 on field goals. Williamson is 6-for-6 for the season, including 2 for 2 from 40-49 yards. Honorable mention to Colorado freshman punter Darragh O'Neill who averaged 49.2 yards on six punts against Colorado State with a long of 56 and two killed inside the Colorado State 20-yard line.

Smiley face: Utah and Colorado, the conference's two newest members, took care of their nonconference business. The Utes' 54-10 road-game vivisecting of BYU was particularly impressive.

Frowny face: Arizona State is a better team that Illinois and it should have beaten Illinois. But it didn't, and there goes the national ranking. Honorable mention to the Washington defense, which was supposed to be much improved this fall, but so far hasn't been.

Thought of the week: It seemed to become clearer over the weekend that the Pac-12 North game of the year will be Oregon at Stanford, and the Pac-12 South game of the year will be Arizona State at Utah. It mostly looked that way in the preseason, but it now appears that no surprise challenger will step up in either division.

Questions for the week: Who is going to be a road warrior? Excluding Stanford, which is 2-0 on the road, the Pac-12 is 2-9 on the road so far this season. California, which is at Washington on Saturday, won at Colorado and Utah won at BYU (but lost at USC). Colorado is at Ohio State. Oregon is at Arizona. UCLA is at Oregon State. USC is at Arizona State. Good teams win on the road. Who steps up? And who falters?

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