Virginia Tech's special
teams are famous for hard-nosed, aggressive play, sure tackling, creating
turnovers and scoring touchdowns on those turnovers.
They call it "Beamerball", named after legendary head coach Frank Beamer.
Beamer is very hands on when it comes to the special teams for Virginia
Tech. Beamer started out as the
defensive coordinator, then calling plays on offense, "His special teams
didn't really pick up the tempo until he had more direct involvement where the
kids knew they were answering to the head coach," former Notre Dame coach
Charlie Weis noted.
Weis traveled to
Tech must replace its punter
and placekicker this fall. Senior
Chris Hazley (6-1, 196), junior Justin Myer (6-1, 214) and redshirt freshman
Cody Journell (5-11, 180) will compete for the placekicking job.
Hazley, a former walk-on, has waited for the opportunity since being in
the background his previous three years. He
came out of spring ball as the kicker to beat. Hazley
is solidifying his hold on the position this fall.
He hit all four of his field goal tries, including kicks of 48 and 43
yards, in last Saturday's practice.
Myer has been in the lineup
on kickoffs the past two years and will once again have that responsibility.
Justin has recorded 22 touchbacks for the Hokies and his booming kickoffs
played a key role in Virginia Tech leading the ACC in kickoff return coverage.
Myer has a strong leg but needs to work on his accuracy if he is to earn
the placekicker duties. Myer shows
good form and good strength as well.
Senior Brian Saunders (6-0,
198) appears to be the front-runner for the vacant punting job.
He backed up Brett Bowden for three seasons and has been a
non-scholarship player for four years. Bowden
finished 14th in the nation last year with a 43.77 average.
Saunders showed improved leg strength and consistency in spring practice,
which was essentially his tryout for the job.
On August 14, Coach Beamer awarded the punter with a scholarship.
Saunders bruised his right ankle on August 23 but is expected to be fine.
Saunders averaged 46 yards on four punts in last Saturday's practice.
Dyrell Roberts was fourth in
the nation in kickoff returns last year (31.89 yards per return) while sophomore
Jayron Hosley was fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 23rd
nationally in punt returns (11.23 yards per return).
Hosley has been out of fall ball with a left hamstring injury. He returned to practice this past Monday and now has a sore right hamstring but is expected to be fine by the opener with Boise State. Sophomore
David Wilson is another threat that the Hokie return game has in its arsenal.
Defensively, Chris Hill has
been very quick coming off the edge on punt blocks this fall.
Hill had two blocked punts last Saturday.
The Hokies were 50th in punt return yardage, allowing 7.82
yards last season. They were 30th
in kickoff return defense at 20.22 yards per return allowed, with 16 touchbacks.
This "checklist" was put together by "Outsidethesidelines" on the
Kick-off location and positioning
Kick-off hang time
Ability of kickoff team to get
downfield and surround the ball carrier
Tackling ability of kickoff team
Onside kick placement
Onside kick recover ability (on
Deep snapping on punts
Quickness of punter's release
Punt location and positioning
Punt hang time
Punt return defense
Punt blocking abilities
Blocking for the punt returner
The punt returner's actual return
abilities with ball in hand
The punt returner's ability to
safely catch the punt
The punt returner's decision
making ability on when to call for a fair catch and let the punt bounce, or when
to take a kneel on a kick-off
Deep snapping on field goals
Quality holding by the holder
Timing between the snapper,
holder, and kicker
Blocking by the field goal
Ability of the kicker to elevate
the ball over the line to avoid a block
Kicking power of the kicker
Kicking accuracy of the kicker
Field goal blocking abilities
Decision-making ability of the
Ability to catch kick
North-south running on the kickoff
Physical ability of returner to
Returner's speed with the ball
The faking and maneuverability of
the ball carrier
Coaches' ability in making correct
decisions with regard to utilizing special teams units
Ability to successfully take wind
and other playing conditions into account on all kicks
Ability to avoid special teams
penalties (clipping, roughing, kicks out of bounds, etc.)
I viewed last year's
Virginia Tech-Alabama game with the above factors in mind:
Virginia Tech kicked off. There
was about a 3-second hang time to the left hash at the 11-yard line.
Four defenders were at the 20 when the ball was caught.
There was a seven-yard return.
Alabama FG attempt—two or
three defenders had hands in the air at the line but the ball was kicked high
for a field goal.
Alabama led 3-0 and lined up
for another FG attempt—The guys in the middle jumped to block it but again the
kick was high enough to get over them and through the uprights.
With Virginia Tech leading
With the score 7-6,
With the score 9-7, VT lined
up for field goal. Excellent
blocking, no one was close to blocking the kick.
The snap and hold were excellent and the kick was good.
Second half kickoff--Four
seconds hang time to the middle of the field in the end zone.
Two VT defenders shot through to the 15 with 4 more at the 20.
First Virginia Tech punt of
second half—no penetration, 4 guys got down to down the punt.
Long snapper Brian Selman of
Virginia Tech's second punt
in the third quarter--Excellent snap, good control by punter and quick release.
No pressure at all, good blocking. 5.5
hang time to right-hash mark on the 11-yard line.
There was a fair catch. There
were five guys within range.
With VT leading 17-16, the
Hokies kicked off. It was a good
kick to the goal line in the middle of the field with four-second hang time.
There were 7 VT players at the 20, where the
VT Kick return, down 24-17--
With VT down 24-17,
With Virginia Tech trailing
27-24, they kicked off. There was a
four-second hang time to the left hash at the 10-yard line.
At the time the