There are many words that you can use to describe John Goodman. Great student, good teammate and a leader are a few of those words, but punt returner shouldn’t be one of those words used to describe him.
Goodman remains Notre Dame’s guy returning punts despite being one of the worst returners in the entire country. When he actually doesn’t call for a fair catch and returns a punt, which is a rarity in itself, his stats are eye-popping bad. In eight returns, the senior only has five yards.
There are a number of reasons for this. Goodman doesn’t have the speed to get away from opposing defenders nor the strength to break tackles. There are several punt returners across the country who can break several tackles in order for a big return, but not Goodman.
Keeping Goodman this long as the team’s punt returner is inexcusable. It appeared as though he had lost his job in the beginning of this season when Theo Riddick was returning punts, but a Riddick fumble in the game against South Florida did away with that quickly.
Probably the most frustrating thing about keeping Goodman where he is at is that Brian Kelly has more than enough options to pick from. Despite his fumble early on in the year, Riddick is probably the best overall option. He has the breakaway and shiftiness to be an elite returner on punts. Riddick shouldn’t continued to be punished for just one mistake.
If Kelly wants to keep a sure-handed guy back there like Goodman, he could turn to a guy like Austin Collinsworth. The son of Chris Collinsworth, the sophomore safety has been on the kickoff team the last two years and has shown the ability to be a very good returner. He should at least be given a long look from his head coach.
The punt return game is way too important to continue throwing Goodman out there. Having a quality guy back there returning punts can help with field position and at times, give you momentum and help your offense out when it is struggling.
Hopefully Kelly changes his mind on this topic. Goodman is a great young man and has helped this team win games in the past as a receiver, but he should be fired as Notre Dame’s punt returner. Where is Donald Trump when you need him?