Uneven special teams play a concern for the Utes
Utah has given up two kickoff returns for touchdowns and has missed kicks. But the Utes do have punt return extraordinaire Britain Covey, who coach Kyle Whittingham calls ‘a weapon’
Utah’s special teams performance this season has been a mixed bag.
“Some good, some bad,” said coach Kyle Whittingham.
The Utes have given up two kickoff returns for touchdowns, including a 100-yard return in last week’s 33-31 triple-overtime loss to San Diego State and a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the season opener against Weber State.
“We shouldn’t have two kickoff returns for touchdowns in 15 years, let alone two in three weeks,” Whittingham said. “That’s unacceptable. Needless to say, we have to figure that out.”
Whittingham said both kickoff returns were “the same exact type of return.” He added, “We’ve got to coach them better. Special teams-wise, that’s our Achilles heel right now, that kickoff coverage.”
Meanwhile, placekicker Jadon Redding missed a 43-yard field goal in the second quarter last week, and a PAT in the fourth quarter.
Redding was an All-Pac-12 first-team selection last season.
“We still believe in Jadon. He missed the PAT — it came off his toe and he pushed it to the right,” Whittingham said. “We have Jordan Noyes as the No. 2 guy. He’s a solid kicker. Right now, we’re sticking with Jadon at this point in time.”
On the bright side, Britain Covey is the reigning Pac-12 special teams player of the week.
He returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown against SDSU.
“Britain Covey is a weapon for us. We know what he can do in the punt return game,” Whittingham said. “That’s no secret, that’s no surprise. That’s what he’s been doing his whole career here.”
Covey amassed 132 total punt return yards against the Aztecs, a career-high and the most in the FBS this season. It ranks sixth all-time at Utah for a single game. His 80-yard punt return is the longest single return in the Pac-12 this season and the fourth longest in the FBS.
Covey ranks No. 2 nationally in punt returns, averaging 20.6 yards per return, trailing only Rutgers’ Aron Cruikshank, who’s averaging 23.5 per return.