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Mizzou Football: Fatony, McCann lead up strong special teams unit

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In the last of our position previews, we’re looking at the impact a strong special teams group could have on the 2018 season.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

I have to be honest, y’all: I’m running out of ways to say Mizzou Football is coming up this weekend. I was up late on Thursday night writing a Mizzou-ified rendition of, “The Night Before Christmas,” but I was luckily awake enough to spare all of you from having to read it.

Anyway, Mizzou Football comes back on Saturday, and we’ve been breaking down each position group for y’all as the last week has ticked away. Here’s where you can catch up:

All we have left is the special teams units, headed up by Tucker McCann and my Large Adult Son Corey Fatony. Let’s dive right in.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

All-SEC first-teamer Corey Fatony has become a folk hero for Mizzou fans, emerging as a fun personality and celebratory figure even when football isn’t going so well. What are your expectations for the senior as he begins his swan song?

Ryan Herrera, Football Beat Writer: I’m expecting more of the same out of Fatony this season: a lot of deep punts, and a celebration to go with each one. Everyone remembers him celebrating his punts during the infamous Purdue blowout last year, but with what should be a better overall team, Fatony will actually have some opportunities to celebrate. His 44.3 yards per punt average in 2017 had him ranked 13th overall, and he’s this year’s preseason All-SEC First-Team punter. I’m no expert on punting, but I’m expecting Fatony to pin Missouri’s opponents deep in their own territory on a regular basis.

Jack Parodi, Football Beat Writer: Expect to see the most entertaining, but talented, punter in college football. In a game against Purdue last year during which Missouri got embarrassed, Fatony received “MVP” chants from the Tiger fan base. And why not? The punter continuously pinned the Boilermakers deep within their own territory (only to have the defense give up 80-plus yard touchdown drives). Even some “#FatonyForHeisman” hashtags have popped up on Twitter. The SEC’s first-team punter ranked 13th in the country last year, averaging 44.3 yards per punt. Only four of the 12 punters ahead of Fatony are returning this season, giving him a solid chance of bringing home the Ray Guy Award for the best college punter. Fatony has big NFL aspirations, and people will see this year why he’s one of the best punters in the land.

Connor Snelson, Football Analyst: Corey Fatony may very well be one of the most popular players on the Mizzou Football roster, perhaps only behind Lock and Beckner Jr. He punts the ball well and may be the swaggiest punter in all of college football. My expectations for him are to keep up the high level of play he’s already shown. If he can have another great season, he may end up playing on Sundays.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

After a rough freshman year, Tucker McCann evolved into one of the country’s best kickers last year, delivering on some of the promise of his high recruiting ranking. Entering his junior season, how can McCann prove himself even more valuable?

Ryan Herrera: McCann really just needs to keep proving he can drill field goals when his name is called. There’s a lot of hope that this team will make it deep into its opponents’ territory more consistently, and that would mean many more opportunities for McCann to kick the ball through the uprights. He had the second best FG% in the SEC last season (88.2), and he really has to show that 2017 wasn’t a fluke. He already proved he can improve when he upped his FG% from the 50% he put up in 2016; now, he just has to show that his improvement is here to stay.

Jack Parodi: McCann had a supremely disappointing freshman season after getting ranked as the nation’s top kicking recruit out of high school. He turned it up a bit last season, earning him a preseason SEC second-team selection. McCann doesn’t need to improve on too much heading into 2018 other than his range. The junior went 15-for-17 (88.2 percent) on field goals and 51-for-53 (96.2 percent) on extra points last season. Head coach Barry Odom didn’t trust McCann to take many long field goals last year, as he attempted four 40-49 yard field goals (making them all) and didn’t attempt any over 50 yards. If McCann can gain more of Odom’s trust in his long-range kicking game, he’ll take a lot of pressure off Lock and the offense to get deep into the opposing team’s territory every possession.

Connor Snelson: Just by consistently making 30-40 yard field goals, especially when the Tigers need them. If he can come up clutch in a specific game or just continue with last year’s strong percentages, I think that would be a great season for McCann.