Little, through four games, has been as unpredictable for Fort Valley State when the offense and defense arent on the field.
Special teams have been a roller-coaster ride so far.
Four weeks ago, Valdosta State blocked a point-after kick and then got momentum with a 65-yard kickoff return that led to a quick score.
Three weeks ago, Savannah State was outgained by a large margin but rode a blocked punt and 92-yard kickoff return to survive two missed field goals to hand Fort Valley State a seven-point loss.
Then two weeks ago, FVSU happily accepted Clark Atlantas brutal 1-for-5 night on field goals and held on, despite missing a 34-yard field goal in overtime, for a three-point win.
And on Saturday, special teams ended up being the difference in FVSUs 35-30 win over Benedict in Augusta.
Well take them, FVSU head coach Donald Pittman said. We dont mind being on (that) end of it.
Special teams play has not been a plus for the Wildcats this season overall, but the units are slowly progressing.
Indeed, the big plays helped FVSU improve to 2-0 in conference play and even its overall record at 2-2, one of five SIAC teams with that mark.
JaBioas Glenn darted in and blocked a punt only minutes into the game, teammate Stefon Harper recovering for a touchdown. Of course, Benedict answered later in the quarter with a 90-yard kickoff return for a score.
But Glenn blocked another punt near the end of the first half, with Calvin Jackson recovering for a touchdown.
That put the Wildcats up 21-17, and they never trailed again, although the Tigers scored twice in the fourth quarter to make things interesting.
The plays helped make up for an offense thats still not quite clicking. FVSU outgained Benedict 311-302 in total offense but only because the Wildcats defense mauled the Tigers running game, holding them to minus-16 yards on 29 carries and racking up four sacks.
Theyre kicking on all cylinders, Pittman said of the defense that is 18th overall, second in tackles for loss, 17th in turnovers gained and 11th in interceptions. Theyre playing great.
Not kicking on all cylinders is the kicking game, where the Wildcats are raw for the first time since Pittman arrived. FVSU had Rutland product Marquette King -- now the starting punter for the Oakland Raiders -- and Justin Rosenbaum making up a quality 1-2 kicking punch.
Field position tilted in FVSUs favor, either from a high or long King punt or a booming kickoff from Rosenbaum, who also holds the program record for longest field goal.
Weve been spoiled around here, having two guys like the ones we had the last four years, Pittman said. We didnt have to worry that much about kickoffs, because we always had strong kickers kicking it to the end zone.
Now, we have to work.
FVSU is in the bottom 10 in Division II in kickoff returns (14.92 yards per return), kickoff return defense (allowing an average of 32.5 yards). The Wildcats are in the bottom half in net punting (31.7 yards), punt return defense (10.8 yards per return). They have yet to make a field goal this season and are 6-for-10 in PAT kicks.
That puts FVSU in a field-position bind, more critical with a mostly new offense. And with Tuskegee coming to town with a 3-1 record and a feeling of the old FVSU-Tuskegee battles on the horizon, the Wildcats cant be in that bind again.
Were gonna get it right this week, Pittman said. We have to have it right this week for us to be successful against Tuskegee, because theyre going to have a sound kicking game, defense and offense.