Snapshot: CU special teams
Matt Thompson (1st season), director of quality control/special teams
* CU has several assistant coaches handling specific special teams duties
5 key players
SN J.T. Bale, Fr.
PK Diego Gonzalez, Sr.
P Alex Kinney, So.
KR Donovan Lee, Jr.
PR Jay MacIntyre, So.
2015 special teams rankings
Field-goal percentage: 62.1% (Pac-12: 12; National: n/a)
Net punting: 36.7 ypp (Pac-12: 9; National: 81)
Punt returns: 6.2 ypr (Pac-12: 11; National: 94)
Kickoff returns: 21.9 ypr (Pac-12: 6; National: 44)
Numbers to know
6 - Number of kicks CU had blocked or tipped last season (three punts, three field goals). The Buffs had just two blocked in the previous three seasons combined.
18 - Field goals made by Gonzalez, tied for the fourth-best single season total in program history. It was the most by a CU kicker since Mason Crosby had 19 in 2006.
23 - Punts by Kinney that landed inside the opponent 20-yard-line last season, the fourth-best single-season total in school history.
28.8 - Percentage of CU kickoffs that resulted in a touchback (17 of 59), the lowest percentage by the Buffs since 2011.
138 - Consecutive extra-point kicks made by the Buffs, the longest streak in school history. The Buffs haven't missed a PAT attempt since Nov. 19, 2011, at UCLA. Gonzalez went 35-for-35 last season.
Colorado kicker Diego Gonzalez is well aware that last season didn't go as well as he had hoped as he took over at the Buffaloes' placekicker.
He just doesn't choose to dwell on the roller-coaster ride.
"It's not something I'm thinking about," he said. "That won't help me or make me worse for the next kicks. I just try to clear that of my mind and go out there and just make the field goal."
Gonzalez was perfect on extra points (35-of-35) last year, but made just 18 of 29 field goal attempts (62.1 percent), ranking last in the Pac-12 in accuracy.
A native of Monterrey, Mexico, Gonzalez made his first five kicks last season, and then shook off back-to-back misses (one was blocked) to drill 32-yarder in overtime to beat Colorado State.
His season turned when he suddenly couldn't hit his kicks from the left hash. After starting 4-for-4 from that hash, he missed seven consecutive attempts from that side of the field.
Gonzalez finished the year going 5-for-12 (41.7 percent) from the left hash and 13-for-17 (76.5 percent) when kicking from other spots.
Rather than get down about his misses, Gonzalez, now a senior, set out to fix his problem. He did a Google search for kicking coaches and got a recommendation from former CU punter Darragh O'Neill to visit retired NFL kicker John Carney. During his 24-year pro career, Carney drilled 478 field goals (fifth in NFL history) and hit 82.4 percent of his kicks (seventh-best among retired kickers).
"I worked with him for three weeks in San Diego," Gonzalez said. "I think he helped me out a lot with consistency and with the height of my ball.
"I worked on my steps and my plant foot and just having good contact and making sure I have the right angle to kick."
CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said Gonzalez has been much improved since then, and Gonzalez said he's more confident going into his second season as the Buffs' starting kicker.
"I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with my kicking, and now that I'm getting used to the new holder and new snapper, it's even better," he said.
Working with freshman snapper J.T. Bale and junior holder Robert Orban was "kind of funky and it was weird" at first, Gonzalez said, but now, "I'm used to them and I think we all feel real comfortable with each other, so that's really good."
Gonzalez might also add kickoff duties to his plate. Junior Chris Graham handled kickoffs last year with mixed results, and the two competed for the job in fall camp.
"That's what I'm aiming for," Gonzalez said of kicking off. "Fall camp was kind of a competition and hopefully I came out on top."
He's hoping to do his part to help the Buffs come out on top as a team, too.
"I'm really excited and can't wait," he said. "I think it's going to be a great year for the team."
A quick look at each position on CU's special teams:
Placekicker/kickoff: Unless the wheels fall off, Gonzalez is locked in as the placekicker. Either Gonzalez or Graham will kick off. Walk-on freshman Davis Price has a bright future and could get called upon if needed.
Punters: Alex Kinney had a tough start to his freshman year, but got better as the year went along and is proving to be a good weapon for the Buffs. He excels at directional punting and by all accounts comes into this season better and more confident. Graham and walk-on Cameron Silzer are backups.
Returners: As the season approaches, the Buffs are still looking at options here. Among veterans, running backs Donovan Lee and Phillip Lindsay have both done well when handling kickoff returns. Lee was fifth in the Pac-12 last year with a 24.5-yard average on his returns. Sophomore receiver Jay MacIntyre figures to handle punt return duties, with junior Shay Fields also an option.
Holders/snappers: Bale won the long snapper job during the offseason and the Buffs have been pleased with how he's performed. Junior receiver Robert Orban has been the primary holder and figures to continue in that role.
Projected depth chart
PK - Diego Gonzalez, Sr., 6-0, 215
P - Alex Kinney, So., 6-1, 210
KO - Gonzalez
KOR - Donovan Lee, Jr., 5-9, 180
PR - Jay MacIntyre, So., 5-10, 185
HOLD - Robert Orban, Jr., 6-6, 205
SN - J.T. Bale, Fr., 6-2, 210
PK - Chris Graham, Jr., 6-3, 240
P - Cameron Silzer, Jr., 5-11, 180
KO - Graham
KOR - Phillip Lindsay, Jr., 5-8, 190
PR - Shay Fields, Jr., 5-11, 180
HOLD - T.J. Patterson, Jr., 6-3, 190
SN - Chris Hill, Sr., 6-2, 225
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.