Experience in the special teams for Cards

Grant Donovan

Cardinal Authority takes a look at special teams and how the University of Louisville should benefit from veterans returning in three key spots on special teams - kicker, punter and long snapper. Special teams coach Tony Grantham talks about his U of L units.

With a new staff in place, the University of Louisville football team has plenty of changes to try and get adjusted to this season.

The offense will be more explosive and the defensive scheme has changed.

And there will be changes in the special teams, but not in the personnel. The staff will use one coach - Tony Grantham - as the coach who oversees the entire special teams unit.

"I will do it all," Grantham said.

The previous staff at U of L split up the special teams duties without having a single coach oversee all of the special teams. New coach Bobby Petrino has also spent a lot of time with special teams units in practice.

"It's a major part," Petrino said. "We're going to spend a lot of time on special teams because that will win or lose some games for you. We have to be good on special teams.

But Grantham admitted that because of three returning veterans at key spots on special teams that he "does sleep a little better at nights. It makes you not worry as much.

Those key returning players are four-year long snapper Grant Donovan and three-year kicker John Wallace along with three-year punter Ryan Johnson. All are from the Louisville-area.

"Yes, that's big for us," Petrino said. "We have guys with experience there."

Donovan could be the biggest key. Grantham said a consistent long snapper is "really big" for a special teams unit. Donovan has started every game since he arrived on campus after a stellar high school career at Male High.

"A position you don't understand how important it is until you don't have one," Grantham said. "We are fortunate to have a really good one, a four-year starter there. He does a really good job on both long snaps and short snaps."

Wallace is a preseason Lou Groza Award finalist and made 20 of 24 field goals and 52 of 54 extra points last season. Johnson has punted for two years and averaged over 41 yards last season as a junior.

"There's nothing like 70,000 people in the stadium," Grantham said. "You never know how guys are going to respond to the pressure and we have guys who have responded well and who have done it. They've been there and done it.

"So, that's really big for us."

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