Coluzzi taking blame for special teams mistakes in season opener
Place kicker and punter Ron Coluzzi is taking ownership of the mistakes that prevented the Central Michigan University football team from putting Chattanooga away in the late stages in the Chippewa's home opener last week.
Specifically, the Chippewas struggled in the place kicking game, yet the team also missed several opportunities to pull away in the game’s second half.
“We have to be a lot better on special teams if we are going to win games,” head coach Dan Enos said. “Our approach isn’t changing, though. We have the right skill level at all the essential positions. We just need to execute better than we did that night."
Place kicker and punter Ron Coluzzi failed on both field goal attempts of the evening. One from 43 yards out missed wide right while the other, from 23 yards away, was blocked.
“When the ball goes doesn’t go through the uprights, that’s on me,” Coluzzi said. “It doesn’t matter what else happened on the play. Everyone looks at the kicker when we can’t get it done. I’ve got to do a better job.”
Enos said placing the onus on Coluzzi for all of the special mistakes is not necessarily fair.
“That’s just him being a team player,” Enos said. “Special teams are something we work on a lot. It’s a very rhythmic thing. We can do better.”
CMU’s special teams coordinator and assistant head coach Kyle Nystrom said although he is certain that special teams needs improvement, the overall competence of the unit is not a cause for alarm.
“Ron’s got to be more dynamic," Nystrom said. "He knows that. When a kicker misses, you don’t have to say anything to them … they know. It’s all mental with them.”
Both Nystrom and Enos pointed to Coluzzi’s solid effort punting the football as something the third squad did well that night.
Coluzzi punted four times against UTC for an average of 37.8 yards per kick. Each time Coluzzi’s punted the ball, the Mocs started the ensuing drive from within its own red zone.
“(Punting) is a new learn for Coluzzi,” Nystrom said. “If you get everyone taking ownership for their position like that, you’ve got a good football team.”
Coluzzi said time and dedication to fixing problems are key to shaping up CMU's special teams.
“The more you’re out there, the looser you feel,” he said. “You need to be prepared. I need to make my kicks. I hold a lot of responsibility right now. I didn’t perform my best last Thursday.”