Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hokies Have Special Talent Kick-Blocking Ability Gives Tech an Advantage

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hokies Have Special Talent Kick-Blocking Ability Gives Tech an Advantage

Article excerpt

Having All-American punt returner Andre Davis back for kicks can make any Virginia Tech opponent nervous. The speedy Davis has three touchdown returns this season.

What's even more unnerving is that the Hokies' entire special teams coverage unit poses a threat.

Seven Tech special-teamers combined for a nation-leading eight blocked kicks this season. Four of them led to touchdowns. The Hokies' 63 blocked kicks in the 1990s were more than any Division I-A football team.

"I think anyone that goes out on that field needs to watch out for us," said Tech senior rover Cory Bird, who blocked a field goal in the season opener and returned a punt for a touchdown the following week. "And of course, we're going to be coming after them."

Clemson freshman kicker Aaron Hunt plans to be prepared when the No. 13 Tigers play the fifth-ranked Hokies on Monday in the Toyota Gator Bowl at Alltel Stadium.

"We are well aware of Virginia Tech's history of blocking kicks," Hunt said. "We know they blocked four place-kicks this year alone. It is something we have stressed in our preparation for this game. But personally I just have to do the same thing, concentrating on making solid contact and just doing my job."

But Davis noticed that some opponents get too anxious about Tech's coverage team. He recalled one instance in which a forewarned unit failed to stop the Hokies' oncoming attack.

"They told everybody, 'They're coming. They're coming,' and we still blocked a kick," Davis said. "They knew it was coming. You can still know it's coming, but we still have ways to get through."

Tech head coach Frank Beamer, who also coaches special teams, said he uses his best athletes on kickoff and punt coverage. Hokie starters Lee Suggs, Lamar Cobb, David Pugh and Bird each have blocked kicks this season. The Hokies lost their most dangerous blocker, junior cornerback Larry Austin, to a season-ending knee injury earlier in the season. …

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