The North Carolina Tar Heels football season kicks off on August 30th against the Liberty Flames at home in Kenan Stadium. To get you ready for the nationally ranked Tar Heel’s first game, Keeping It Heel will have an extensive football preview series previewing all of Carolina’s positions, games and reviewing 2013′s games. Check back to Keeping It Heel every afternoon for new preview posts. Today, let’s preview UNC Football’s special teams.
North Carolina’s special teams was very good in 2013, all because of one very special player- Ryan Switzer. He tied an NCAA record for punt return touchdowns as a freshman, and did it with flash and style. Its easy to forget just how good Ryan Switzer is- five punt return touchdowns don’t seem that impressive because, say, a quarterback can throw five touchdowns in a game no problem. But five punt return TDs in one season is remarkable. Watching those five returns and the ways that Switzer pulled it off is even more remarkable. Let’s take a look at all five of his returns via YouTube.
Number One: Nov. 9th, 2013 against Virginia
This was Switzer’s first punt return touchdown of the year, against a pretty bad Virginia team. Switzer actually muffles the punt catching part, but he has the punt returning part DOWN. A couple of screenshots…
No ball, no problem. Remarkably, with a defender closing in and the ball on the turf, Switzer scores on this play.
Defender has his arms 3/4ths of the way around me? Not a problem. Touchdown.
Oh, hey! This punter guy is about to tackle me? He’s a punter, its not a problem. Touchdown.
Number Two: November 16th, 2013 against Pittsburgh
Poor Pittsburgh. The Panthers got the full force of the Switzer effect, allowing two punt return touchdowns to number three. This first one was pretty easy for him. The closest a Pitt defender got?
The next one came at a much more important time in the game, with under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Number Three: November 16th, vs. Pittsburgh
“No he’s not, yes he is!!!” was the call as Switzer won the game. This wasn’t quite the walk in the park that the last one was. Screenshots, please…
Two fellas, about to sandwich him? Not a problem.
This dude, has his arms again 3/4ths of the way around me? Its that last 1/4th that’s the important part. Not a problem.
Try and tackle me by the legs? Never a problem. Touchdown, Carolina.
Number Four: November 23rd, 2013 vs. Old Dominion
Poor Old Dominion. This punt return touchdown put the Tar Heels up 80-20, in the third quarter no less. I love the punter’s expression at the very end of the video. He ends up in the end zone, with his hands up, half pouting to the ref about a block at the very end of the run and half looking his teammates like “How the heck did that just happen? I kicked that ball 50 yards? Come on, guys.”
A couple screenshots, again…
Switzer catches it awkwardly, having to turn around and has two defenders closing in. Doesn’t look like the start of a punt return TD, but it is.
Here, the defender kneeling over isn’t bending over to tie his shoe or something. Switzer threw a little shoulder fake at him and his knees and ankles threw up the white flag. Need a belt for that buckle, buddy?
Number five: Belk Bowl, December 28th, vs. Cincinnati
Switzer saves his best for last. Against Cincinnati, he knows he needs this one for the record. So Switzer decide to throw reason out the window and forgets to fair catch the ball. Why fair catch when the record is on the line? Here is what I’m talking about in all its HD glory…
Yep, a defender breathing right down his neck, he hasn’t caught the ball yet, and the whole field remains in front of him. And yep, this is a touchdown. Here is another angle.
Even after shedding that first defender, this isn’t going to be a walk in the park. Switzer speeds past these two…
And heads into the endzone, barely touched, and secures a Carolina victory in the process.
Don’t ever, ever forget how good Ryan Switzer is.