It’s time to close out the 2014 URI football season previews with the players that fans rarely notice. Unless they screw up, of course. Then everyone notices them. Here’s more on the Rhody special teams unit: namely, the guys that kick footballs.
First up, punter Anthony DiPaula. The Rutgers transfer didn’t become URI’s full-time punter until week three against Albany, but he came on strong after that. The rising red-shirt junior booted the ball 65 times for a 38.8 per-punt average. DiPaula planted 22 punts inside the 20-yard line, and tallied eight punts of 50+ yards.
The rise of DiPaula was huge, especially considering back-up punter Connor McHugh was largely ineffective in 2013. The then-sophomore opened the season as URI’s starting punter, but it didn’t last long. He punted the ball six times in URI’s season opener, but averaged just 21.3 yards per kick. His longest punt of the game traveled a mere 34 yards. McHugh was able to bounce back a bit, but it wasn’t enough to save his job. Pencil him in as the back-up once again this season.
As for Rhode Island’s kicking game… they’re in good shape. Junior Dylan Smith is set to step in and resume the duties after a very solid 2013 season. Smith connected on eight of his 10 field goal attempts last year, including three of 40+ yards. He also earned CAA Special Teams Player of the Week following URI’s win over Richmond. Smith accounted for all of Rhody’s scoring in that one, booting four field goals in a 12-10 win.
So yeah, not much is changing this year in terms of the kicking game. Let us know your thoughts on the lonesome kickers in the comments!