With consistent Danny Hrapmann kicking field goals, Peter Boehme pinning opponents deep, game changing plays made in the return game, and blocked punts, the special teams were a huge part of the 12-2 season for Southern Miss.
They will be counted on again this season to repeat last season's success.
Gone is one of the best kickers in the nation in Hrapmann, who had two stellar years for the Golden Eagles, including a finalist for the top kicker in the nation. He'll be replaced by budding star Corey Acosta.
Brought in two years ago to shore up the struggling kicking game, Acosta has all the tools to be one of the best kickers in the conference, if not the nation.
The Memphis area native gave Eagle fans a glimpse of what he can do when he had to come in a high pressure situation against Louisiana Tech, in the middle of a tropical storm, and nail two field goals to help preserve the team's win.
Acosta is ready for this opportunity. He is calm under pressure, fundamentally as sound as you'll find, and very smart and level headed. He's not going to get rattled, and in a kicker you need a guy that will be consistent.
He has a big leg too, and has trained under some of the best kickers in Tennessee. The good news for Eagle fans is that they will not miss a beat with Corey Acosta taking over the kicking role this season.
Peter Boehme returns for his senior season, and has become a master at dropping the ball inside the twenty on punts. He's been working hard in the off-season on his hang time, and should continue to develop as an important role on the team.
In the return game, the electrifying Tracey Lampley is back, and he is always a game changer with the ball in his hands.
With a likely increased role in the offense, look for Lampley to likely see duty as a punt return only guy. Some of the burners, such as Jeremy Hester, or incoming freshman Antonio Thomas, will likely see the bulk of the kick-off returns.
Lampley will still be the man at returning punts, however, and why not? Reliable, smart, and always making plays, Lampley is a quick 6 points for the Eagles in the return game.
It remains to be seen how the kick-off and punt cover teams will be. One thing is for certain, the Eagles have a lot of talented young players that burst onto the scene through excellent special teams play last season.
With the talent returning, if Acosta can find the range early, I'll predict this will be the finest season of special teams the Eagles have had in quite some time. Across the board seems to be solid.
So, what will we look for this spring? One, another kick returner to emerge. Two, Peter Boehme's improved leg strength, and three, Acosta finding long range consistency.
Here is one phase of the game that I'd say would be one of the major strengths of the team next season.