Commentary

Big returns equal big results

Gamebreaking punt returners have made the difference on USC championship teams

Updated: February 19, 2012, 3:32 PM ET
By Greg Katz | WeAreSC.com
LOS ANGELES -- Whenever the USC Trojans make a run at a national championship, they seem to have a game-breaking punt returner. If the Men of Troy are going to make an anticipated dash for all the marbles in 2012, they will, in all probability, need another dynamic, if not electrifying, punt returner to reach that goal.

The Trojans of 2012 return two punt returners that fit the bill as potential gamebreakers. Junior All-Pac-12 wide receiver Robert Woods, who enters spring ball with a surgically repaired ankle, will be a major return threat if called upon. If history is any indicator, Woods, who averaged 9.1 yards per punt return despite a gimpy ankle last season, could be following in the recent footsteps of Damian Williams, who was All-Pac-12 as both a receiver and punt returner in 2009.

[+] EnlargeNickell Robey
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesCornerback Nickell Robey showed some game-breaking potential on punt returns this past season.
When the tender ankle of Woods became an issue in 2011, All-Pac-12 cornerback Nickell Robey stepped up and showed to be a major return threat, averaging 11.0 yards per effort. It could be argued that Robey is even a greater threat returning punts because of his lightning quickness and sudden burst.

Greg Katz | email

Columnist, WeAreSC.com

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