Considering the Kansas University football team converted just a bit more than 25 percent of its third-down attempts last year, the punting game could be critical this season.
Fortunately for the Jayhawks, they have two punters senior Curtis Ansel and sophomore Chris Tyrrell who should be able to get the job done.
"It's going to be an interesting situation," special teams coordinator and running backs coach Clint Bowen said, "but we know we've got two guys with game experience and that puts us at some ease. We've got to get better performance out of that position, though, and both of those guys are capable of that."
Ansel, a transfer from Garden City Community College, started the first three games last season and averaged 38 yards per punt before straining his groin and hip flexor in practice.
Tyrrell, Ansell's roommate last year, took over the punting duties for the next seven games, averaging 40.5 yards per punt.
Ansel, who returned for the final game and averaged 37.3 yards on three punts, was named No. 1 on the depth chart after spring practices.
"That doesn't mean anything," Ansel said. "You've got to come out and prove yourself again because your position isn't there automatically just because you proved yourself in the spring."
Ansel said neither would be bitter if the other wins the starting job.
"We became really good friends," Ansel said. "I have all the confidence in the world that if something should happen again and if I should be the No. 1 or if he should be the No. 1, it doesn't matter because either one of us can step in and do the job."
With the average starting field position for KU opponents being their own 35-yard line last year, there's still room for improvement from the two punters.
"I thought in the spring that we were a little bit behind in that area," coach Mark Mangino said. "We didn't put a lot of work into the punters. We worked on the protection, but I believe when it's all said and done we should be pretty decent at the punter position."
Ansel was listed No. 1 on the most recent depth chart.
"Curtis Ansel is punting the ball extremely well," Mangino said. "The ball is coming off his foot like a rocket."
Special teams, like the receiving corps, took a hit when senior captain Harrison Hill left the team when he was unable to overcome chronic dehydration.
Junior Remuise Johnson replaced Hill as the team's punt returner. Red-shirt freshman quarterback Brian Luke was expected to replace Hill as the holder on the kicking team, but senior quarterback Jonas Weatherbie was handling those duties during Wednesday night's scrimmage.
Senior Greg Nicks and junior college transfer Andy Coffman are listed as co-No. 1s on the depth chart at long snapper. Junior receiver Derick Mills is expected to return kicks.
"We spent a lot of time meeting, we spent a lot of time talking and we spent a lot of time coaching the special teams units," Mangino said. "We believe that special teams can help us this season in a lot of tight situations. The teams with great special teams usually get the edge when everything is even."