Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Checking off Some WVU Boxes

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Checking off Some WVU Boxes

Article excerpt

Throughout the years, West Virginia hasn't exactly been known for its special teams. Virginia Tech had its Beamer-ball. WVU had its DeForest-ball.

In the Mountaineers' first game of the season, however, many boxes were checked in the area of special teams.

Punting? Check. Billy Kinney averaged 45.4 yards on five punts. Today he stands No. 16 nationally. Now all he needs to do is grow a mustache.

Field goal kicking? Check. Mike Molina was 4 for 4 with a long of 33 yards. He's tied at No. 2 nationally in field goals per game to Florida State's Ricky Aguayo and, obviously, tied at No. 1 in percentage. All he needs to do now is win Dana Holgorsen a couple games at the end - and hold off veteran Josh Lambert when he comes off suspension following the BYU game.

WVU's coverage? Check. In Missouri's only punt return last Saturday, Johnathan Johnson had but 2 yards. In three Mizzou kickoff returns, the Tigers averaged 19.67 yards. The long was 23.

Kickoffs? Check. Molina averaged 62.1 yards and had four touchbacks in seven kicks.

Also, you can check the kickoff return box. Shelton Gibson had two for 64 yards.

There were, however, two special teams boxes left unchecked.

First, there was that punt return unit. Gary Jennings took four punts from Missouri - for a mere 7 yards total. On top of that, his bell was rung like church was about to begin.

"We've got to get hands on [opponents] earlier, said WVU special teams coach Mark Scott. "We've got to slow them up to give ourselves a chance, so Gary isn't taking shots back there.

"That was the main negative from Saturday. We addressed that Sunday. We had a team meeting and watched every single special teams rep from the game. We called some guys out and challenged them. We've got guys that are eager to get in there so we're having competition this week. We're going to see how we can get better in that phase. …

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