Over the last 15 years of dominance under Nick Saban, the Alabama football team has had a lot of elite units on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. However, the one unit that has always seemed to come under criticism is special teams.
Whether it be inconsistent place kicking, shaky punting, or punt returners struggling to catch the ball, there has been some issues with the Crimson Tide special teams unit over the last several years.
This season, however, the special teams unit has been excellent, making a difference in every area through three games.
Will Reichard has been a stalwart as the place kicker for several seasons now going back to 2020 when he was perfect on field goals and extra points. Reichard is perfect in both of those categories once again in 2022 and kicked the game-winning 33-yard field goal to secure Alabama's big road victory against Texas.
After an erratic 2021 campaign, Crimson Tide punter James Burnip has improved this season, averaging three more yards per punt than he did last year. He has downed four out of his nine punts inside the 20-yard line.
On the return front, Alabama had a huge day in their last game against Louisiana-Monroe as they racked up 228 punt return yards breaking the program record set back in 1947.
The two highlights were Brian Branch's 68-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter and Malachi Moore returning a blocked punt for a touchdown early in the first half. Kool-Aid McKinstry also had an average of 27 yards per punt return in five tries.
While the season is still young and the competition will certainly get more difficult, the Crimson Tide special teams unit has been a consistent bright spot this season proving the important third phase of the game is something Alabama can depend on moving forward.
Watch the video at the top of the page where BamaCentral's Clay Miller and Joey Blackwell discuss Alabama's special teams performance through the first three games.