2008 Midseason Review: Special Teams

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Frank Beamer’s special teams have been up and down this year. They’ve
been major contributors in some key wins, and they were also a big reason for
Tech’s one loss to East Carolina. Like the offense and defense, there are a
lot of very young, inexperienced players on special teams.

The Hokies are playing a number of true freshmen this year, and all of them
are seeing significant action on special teams. Let’s take a quick look at
each of these units and see how they are faring.

Field Goals

This will be a pretty quick section. Dustin Keys has done a terrific job with
his field goal kicking this year. He missed his first kick of the year, a 44
yard attempt against East Carolina. Since then, he’s made 11 straight kicks
with a long of 45. 11-of-12 is a pretty good start for a first time starter.
Keys is tied for 8th in the nation in field goals per game (1.83 fg/game), and
his percentage (91.7%) is third amongst kickers with 10 or more attempts.

Keys’ fourth quarter field goals won games against Georgia Tech and North
Carolina, and his four kicks at Nebraska in front of a hostile crowd were key
(pun intended) to Tech’s 5-point win in Lincoln. The whole field goal kicking
operation has been good from the start.


Punting hasn’t been quite as good as Frank Beamer would like. The Hokies
are just 106th nationally in net punting, with an average of 31.43 per
attempt. Tech allowed a punt return for a touchdown against Nebraska, and East
Carolina blocked a punt for a touchdown in the late stages of the game to come
away with the win.

Brent Bowden is averaging 38.6 yards per punt (71st in the nation), with a long of 55. He’s had
some inconsistent kicks in the past couple of weeks, but overall those stats are
misleading. He has punted from inside opponents’ territory on a few occasions,
pinning Georgia Tech and UNC deep late in games. That hurts the overall average.
He also punted from the Western Kentucky 37 in last week’s game.

Bowden has shown