In anticipation of two-a-days beginning today, MeanGreenSports.com breaks down the 2005 North Texas football team position by position. Today, the difference makers on special teams.
Head coach Darrell Dickey believes that special teams are the difference between winning and losing. With four consecutive conference titles under his belt, Dickey's special teams units have been nothing short of exceptional.
Leading the Mean Green special teams this year will once again be All-Sun Belt kicker Nick Bazaldua. Bazaldua has become the premier place kicker in the conference with a blend of accuracy and power. He was selected to the first team all-conference and hit over 70 percent of his field goals.
Bazaldua was perfect last season from inside 40 yards and has missed only two extra points in the past two seasons. Bazaldua nailed a career long 51-yard field goal against New Mexico State last year and was 5-9 from beyond 40 yards in 2004.
Dennis Hopovac, who has handled kick off duties some over the past two seasons, is expected to relieve Bazaldua occasionally.
Due to the graduation of former all-conference punter Brad Kadlubar, Bazaldua will also handle the punting duties. Kadlubar averaged over 41 yards per punt over his career and boasted 63 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
Despite not handling punts at North Texas, Bazaldua proved a capable punter in high school. He was a first team all-district selection and had a career long punt of 69 yards.
The Mean Green also returns the conference’s top kick returner, Johnny Quinn. Quinn was named first team all conference while averaging 8.5 yards per punt return, including an 85-yard return for a touchdown against Louisiana-Monroe. Quinn is expected resume place holding duties this season as well.
On kick returns, North Texas brings back Zach Muzzy and Kevin Moore. Muzzy racked up 425 kick return yards last season, while Moore averaged 28.9 yards per return.
The Mean Green will have to replace a quality deep snapper with the graduation of Rusty Beck. Candidates to deep snap this season include tight end Beau Davidson and linebacker Colt Mahan.