When it comes time to send the field goal unit to the field this season, Colorado head football coach Mike MacIntyre is sure to feel good about his team at least coming away with three points.

Sophomore James Stefanou aims to improve upon his solid 2017 season, and he's part of what the Buffaloes hope is a strong kicking game this season.

Leading up to fall camp, which starts Thursday, Buffzone.com is previewing each position group for the Buffs. In this installment, we take a look at the special teams, which could be among the best in the Pac-12.

Stefanou was recently named to the preseason watch list for the Lou Groza Award, while punter Alex Kinney was named to the watch list for the Ray Guy Award. CU is one of only nine schools around the country to have players on both lists.

Kickoff specialist Davis Price also returns after a strong 2017 season.

That trio gives MacIntyre plenty of confidence if the Buffs find themselves in close games where the kicking game could be a factor.

"Those guys make strategic changes in field position, make a winning field goal, and the team has momentum," MacIntyre said. "I'm excited about those guys making those plays in those situations."

Stefanou, 31, who came to CU a year ago after a 10-year career in professional soccer in Australia, made a fairly seamless transition to the gridiron in his first year of football. He went 17-for-22 on field goals, including 16-for-18 in the first 10 games.

It was a great debut season, but in the spring, he said he's not satisfied.


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"I'm working on what I need to improve on with coaches and getting better all the time," Stefanou said.

Kinney is doing the same. Entering his fourth season as the Buffs' punter, Kinney had his best year in 2017 and is highly respected on the team. Earlier this month, he was named one of seven team captains — the first CU punter to get that honor since Barry Helton in 1987.

Price gives the Buffs yet another strong leg in the group after settling into his role as the kickoff specialist a year ago. If needed, he can handle field goals, too. In 2016, he went 4-for-6 on field goals, including a 54-yarder — the longest-ever for a CU freshman.

Long snapper J.T. Bale also returns for his third season, handling those duties. One of the best in the Pac-12, Bale has handled every snap for the punt team and field goal/PAT unit over the last two years (263 total snaps).

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.