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Mid-Season Grades: Special Teams

The unit seems to be settling in for a solid second half

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Iowa Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

All things considered, Cyclone Special Teams have performed well to this point. Heading into the year there were question marks abound — specifically around punting, punt returns, and place kicking.

The fact that we’re not talking about needing alternatives at any position right now speaks volumes - while there has been nothing spectacular, there has also been nothing disastrous.

Here’s a look at the main players on the special teams unit:

PK Connor Assalley

Everyone’s favorite new street in Ames was absolutely stellar up until the West Virginia game. Butt Boulevard Assalley’s consistency impressed, and certainly helped keep the Cyclones in every game, especially early on when the offense had no rhythm. Here’s hoping the West Virginia game was an anomaly — he missed two Field goals and one PAT.

For the season, Assalley is 14-15 on PATs, and 8-10 on Field Goal attempts - his longest is 37 yards.

P Corey Dunn
Dunn had everyone excited heading into the beginning of the season, but that buzz quickly fell with a thud after the Aussie’s first kick against Iowa. He has shown flashes of potential (He had a booming 65-yard blast against West Virginia), but his numbers to this point place him 84th nationally, and seventh in the Big 12.

Keep in mind, it’s not all about yards per kick, considering the often-played field position chess match. The sophomore has come on strong in recent games, and appears to be turning into the form everyone expected at the beginning of the season. He is currently averaging 39.2 yards per kick.

KR Kene Nwangwu

The speedster has not disappointed this season, averaging 31.3 yards per return on six attempts. His longest was a 47-yard scamper against Akron, but he also had a 45-yarder a week later against TCU.

Nwangwu remains Iowa State’s primary kick return threat, and if he continues to get kicked to he’s bound to bust one to the end zone by the end of the season.

KR Johnnie Lang

The Cyclones’ alternate kick return threat has three attempts, averaging 13.7 yards per return. His longest was 20 yards against Akron.

PR Tarique Milton

‘The Freak’ has been solid, especially considering punt return duties were very much up in the air at the beginning of the season. He has demonstrated sound decision-making ability, good hands, and elusiveness. On seven return attempts this season, he is averaging 10.4 yards, and has broken two long ones - one for 37 yards against Akron, and another for 21 vs. West Virginia.

Mid-Season Grade: C+

Projected Final Grade: B-