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Big foot: UVA punter Nicholas Conte looks to improve

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uva nicholas conteUVA senior Nicholas Conte was second in the ACC in punting in 2015, and he sees that as suggesting that there’s room for improvement.

“I’m extremely excited to get out here to show these coaches what we can do. I’m working on my punting abilities and making sure I’m able to improve on what was able to do last year and be the best I can for the team this year,” said Conte, a 6’3”, 225-pounder from Roanoke (Patrick Henry).

Where the Virginia punting unit can improve is in the field-position part of the game. Opponents averaged 3.3 yards per return, tied for most in the ACC, and only 15 of Conte’s 52 punts were downed inside the 20.

So despite Conte averaging 44.7 yards per kick overall, with 14 punts of 50+ yards, Virginia was just eighth in the ACC in net yards per punt, at 38.4 yards per attempt.

That will be a point of emphasis for Conte and his unit in camp under new coach Bronco Mendenhall, who is nothing if not a stats geek.

“You try to have a good distance, a good hangtime ratio, from the 40 in, the 50 in, you’re really just trying to pin them inside the 10, and that field position can really make a big difference,” Conte said. “Coach Mendenhall really just brings the percentages into it a little bit more to let you know. If you pin them inside the 10, they’ve got to go 90-some yards to score, and the chances of them doing that against our defense are significantly lower than if you’re to put it on the 20.”

Story by Chris Graham

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