Chicago Sun-Times
with Mark Lazerus

Pitt to put more pressure on punt returners

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John Goodman, Theo Riddick and Robby Toma have all taken turns returning punts for Notre Dame this week. Because Pittsburgh has shown that it can punt from a regular offensive formation, senior captain Harrison Smith will likely take a turn, as well.

On fourth-and-manageable situations, Pittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri has surprised opponents by creeping back a few yards and punting the ball.  

"There will be times when we don't have a punt returner on the field in punting situations because they have their quarterback on the field so we have to be prepared for that," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "We've had Harrison Smith back there in case we get into a situation where we believe they're going to punt for sure. It's rather deceptive in a sense that they only take the quarterback and move him back a couple of yards, so you can't tell if they're running an offensive play.

"We'll get our punt team out there but we may not get them out when their quarterback is on the field."

Complicating matters is that backup quarterback Mark Myers is listed on the depth chart as the co-starting punter with Matt Yoklic, which means Notre Dame will have to be ready for a potential pass from Myers.

The Irish have had trouble fielding punts this season. Goodman replaced Riddick after Riddick muffed one punt and bobbled another against South Florida. Goodman then muffed a punt against Michigan State.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on September 23, 2011 8:57 AM.

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