Best Use of that Nifty Extra Roster Spot? Phillip Livas

11 Aug

Remember that time we signed Clifton Smith for a couple of weeks? It’s all but a faint memory now, as he was waived after just five touches. Smith was a shadow of his Pro Bowl self. However, it showed that for one shining moment we realized that a return specialist was a good idea.

It sounds like I’m being sarcastic, but remember we’re talking about a team that gave Patrick Cobbs 52 opportunities to take one the distance with his blazing 4.68 speed. And our punt returner, Davone Bess is a 4.64 guy himself. Overall Cobbs and Bess add up to 126 returns with no scores, and yawn-inducing averages. Last year Nolan Carroll took back 27 kicks. This fixed the speed issue, but is Carroll a “specialist”? He had ten returns early in his career at Maryland, at just over 14 yards a pop.

Returning kicks isn’t just about simply shoving a speed guy back there. It’s an aspect of the game that has its own intricacies, its own feel. Luckily the new CBA allows for an extra active, gameday roster spot. And even more luckily, we have signed one of the best return men in NCAA history, Louisiana Tech’s Philip Livas. That isn’t hyperbole. You will look long and hard for a player with eight return touchdowns in Division I football (Devin Hester had five, Spiller had eight, “Rocket” Ismail had five, Ginn had seven). You will be hard pressed to find players with over 5,700 total yards on their resumes.  Better yet, he isn’t just a kickoff return guy. Four of his return TDs were on punts.  And not to be overlooked? Livas made noise on offense as well, with 1600 yards and 7 TDs receiving, to go with 800 yards and 4TDs on the ground in his time at Tech.

Ted Ginn was largely a disappointment, but he certainly demonstrated the importance of returns. We maintain that you can’t just throw any old fast kid back there and expect big things. Perhaps Clyde Gates can be that guy, though he doesn’t have much return experience. It takes a special skill set. And thank the Football Gods, we have an extra spot from now on to dedicate to a return guy. Why not let Gates concentrate on being the next Mike Wallace? Why not put an expert back there, who is literally a threat to take it to the house every time. The bonus is Livas has demonstrated skills on offense that can be implemented down the line.

This team has a hell of a good defense. We’re going to be in a lot of close games. Even with the new rules, kick and punt returns could easily add up to eighty touches. Eighty opportunities to change the complexion of a game. Eighty chances to possibly turn a loss into a victory. It’s cringe-worthy to slight this hugely important aspect of the game for the sake of carrying a third-TE, or an emergency QB with a .3% chance of ending up on the field.

We’ve got the roster spot. We’ve got the ideal candidate. Time to make this a priority.

GO DOLPHINS, and feel free to follow us on Twitter @thebottlenose

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6 Responses to “Best Use of that Nifty Extra Roster Spot? Phillip Livas”

  1. J August 11, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    I could not agree more. I was so excited when I saw we picked Livas up. I just hope he is given a good opportunity to make the team, because I believe he has a lot to offer not just as a return man but as a weapon on offense too.

  2. annoyed by fools August 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    It is my understanding that the “roster size increase” in the new cba is for game day – increasing the number who can play from 45 to 46 – and not for the overall roster. The maximum team size remains at 53.

    Team size is the same, but only 7 players are inactive for a game instead of 8.

    Sh who do we cut to keep Livas on the 53?

    • Dan Ewen August 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

      Polite.

    • Dan Ewen August 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

      Mastrud perhaps? The versatility of Clay could make either guy waiver wire fodder.

    • Dan Ewen August 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

      By the way, great point Annoyed. It’s an extra active spot on gameday. So yes, keeping Livas would mean someone else gets the boot (or practice squad). The bonus would be being able to deploy a much-needed return specialist while still fielding the same number of “actives” as last season.

      Thanks.

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