West Virginia's punt-return unit looks for huge, fast turnaround
It took five minutes of fall camp and one question about redshirt freshman quarterback William Crest for West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen to address an issue that festered throughout the offseason.
“You guys can go ahead and write this because this is the topic that you guys like to write about — we caught punts for 25 minutes during practice and we are going to catch them for another 10 minutes here in about five minutes,” the fifth-year coach said.
With an entire season to preview and a host of subjects to discuss about a team preparing to play in one of Division I-A’s most difficult conferences, the topic of punt returns being raised so early was telling.
For all the improvements the Mountaineers made in 2014, they were borderline incompetent when it came to fielding punts, finishing second-to-last in Division I-A (ahead of only Western Michigan) with an average of 3 yards per return.
It is a glaring weakness the team’s coaching staff is doggedly determined to improve.
“I know it was embarrassing,” West Virginia special-teams coordinator Joe DeForest said. “I’m embarrassed about it, and the kids are embarrassed about it, but we’ve worked hard, harder than I’ve ever worked in 26 years of coaching, at trying to get better at that phase. I’ve been in places where we led the country in punt returns doing the exact same thing.”
(h/t Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)