Special Teams Inside the Numbers: Returns

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Yesterday we took a look at Virginia Tech’s special teams coverage numbers of the last 10 years.  Today, we’ll move on to the return game.  Which Hokie teams have been the best at returning kickoffs and punts in the ACC era?


Kickoff Returns

Here’s how the kickoff return numbers have shaken out since the beginning of the ACC era.  Also included are the primary returner(s) in parentheses.

2009: 24.2 ypr (Dyrell Roberts, David Wilson)
2012: 24 ypr (Demitri Knowles, J.C. Coleman)
2004: 23.4 ypr (Eddie Royal, Mike Imoh)
2010: 22.7 ypr (David Wilson, Dyrell Roberts)
2006: 20.9 ypr (Eddie Royal)
2013: 20.9 ypr (Demitri Knowles)
2008: 20.6 ypr (Dyrell Roberts)
2011: 20 ypr (David Wilson, Tony Gregory)
2007: 19.3 ypr (Josh Morgan, Eddie Royal)
2005: 19 ypr (Eddie Royal)

I’ll be the first to say that kickoff return numbers can be skewed.  The NCAA moved kickoffs from the 30 to the 35 yard line in 2012, which changed the dynamics between coverage teams and return teams.

Something else that skews the stats: in some years there are more onside kicks and squib kicks than others.  Here are the kickoff return numbers from 2008:

Dyrell Roberts: 22 returns, 24.8 ypr
Kenny Lewis: 11 returns, 20.2 ypr
Davon Morgan: 4 returns, 19.5 ypr
Victor Harris: 4 returns, 15 ypr
Chris Drager: 2 returns, 6 ypr
Jahre Cheeseman: 1 return, 18 ypr
Cris Hill: 1 return, 11 ypr
Devin Perez: 1 return, 7 ypr

Obviously Chris Drager and Devin Perez would never return a real kickoff, so those three returns for a combined 13 yards hurt the overall average.  Dyrell Roberts, the primary kick returner, was very good with a 24.8 yard average.

Surprise, surprise: