Chicago Sun-Times
with Mark Lazerus

ND getting little production from punt returners

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Theo Riddick was going to be the primary punt returner, even it meant the junior wide receiver would have to rest while the offense was on the field. At least that was the plan before Riddick muffed one punt and bobbled another in a season-opening loss to South Florida.

Even after the South Florida game, coach Brian Kelly said Riddick was his best option and would continue to return punts. 

Then, against Michigan, senior John Goodman was the deep man. Although the sure-handed Goodman is not as big a threat in the open field, he kept the job against Michigan State but muffed a punt, giving Michigan State the ball at the Notre Dame 21 with 4:28 left in the fourth quarter.

"We're disappointed that we put the ball on the ground again in punt returns," Kelly said. "We'll have to talk about that later today when we have our meetings on special teams personnel. We feel like John has great hands. He obviously turned the ball over late. We'll have to evaluate it. It's not certainly where we want to be. It's not like we have a number of guys we can go to either. 

"We felt like Theo and Goody were our two best. We may have to look at other players at this point. I really haven't decided that." 

Regardless of whether it has been Riddick or Goodman, Notre Dame has gotten little production from its punt returners with only five total yards on seven returns this season, which ranks them 11th in the nation.

"When we evaluated our punt returners, he was as [sure]handed as anybody we had," Kelly said of Goodman. "He was last year, too. Hopefully it's just one of those things where we had a turnover at a tough time in the game and that's it.
 
"But, like I said earlier, we'll continue to evaluate him because he was the best guy we had at the time."

Kelly said junior Robby Toma would also get a chance to compete for the job.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on September 19, 2011 2:46 PM.

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