Home Notebook: Virginia continues to focus on improvements to special-teams units
Football, Sports

Notebook: Virginia continues to focus on improvements to special-teams units

Chris Graham
uva football
Photo: UVA Athletics

Virginia’s special-teams units have now had major muckups that played key roles in each of the Cavaliers’ last three losses.

There was the blocked punt that led to a JMU touchdown in the 36-35 loss to the Dukes in Week 2; the kickoff-return TD that got Maryland off the mat from an early 14-0 deficit in Week 3; and then last week, in the 24-21 loss to NC State, the 35-yard kickoff return that set up the Pack for a potential game-winning field goal, and then the leaping penalty that moved the kick 15 yards closer to set up the eventual walk-off kick.

The issue with special teams has unfortunately been a feature of the Elliott regime since he took over last year. UVA’s special teams were ranked 115th nationally last year (among the 131 FBS teams playing in 2022) by Pro Football Focus and 127th by the ESPN Football Power Index.

Through four games in 2023, PFF has Virginia at 114; FPI has the ‘Hoos at 103.

There are 133 FBS programs competing in 2023.

Diving deeper inside the 2023 numbers, the kick-return unit ranks 68th; kick-return coverage ranks 116th; the punt-return unit is 117th; punt-return coverage is 128th; and net punting is 119th.

Elliott, speaking to reporters at his weekly press conference on Tuesday, noted that there will be some personnel changes on the special-teams units, and that he’s been making special teams a point of emphasis in practice.

“It’s a lot of coaching of the details,” Elliott said. “Again, I think special teams at the college level is a little bit different, right, a little bit more detailed, a lot more involved. So, that’s the approach, is to try and find the right personnel with the right skillset for all the jobs we’re asking them to do, and then spending adequate time not just schematically, but fundamentally.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].

Latest News

isaac mckneely
Basketball, Sports

Analysis: Tony Bennett is letting his Virginia team try to do more in transition

elijah gertrude
Basketball, Sports

Virginia Basketball Notebook: Tony Bennett on Elijah Gertrude, Jordan Minor

Virginia coach Tony Bennett and freshman combo guard Elijah Gertrude had agreed before the start of the season that Gertrude should redshirt this year so that he could focus on rehabbing his knee.

chesapeake bay
Climate, U.S. & World

Maryland moves to curb striped bass fishing in spring spawning season

Spurred by slumping striped bass reproduction in Maryland waters, the state Department of Natural Resources is moving to curtail fishing for the popular migratory species during its spawning run next spring.

earth globe

Roddy Scheer: How do enhanced geothermal power plants differ from regular geothermal?

climate change

Roddy Scheer: War is horrible, and it is no less so for the environment


Tom H. Hastings: Guerrilla war in cities and other evolutionary missteps

veteran uniform

Robert C. Koehler: War does nothing but create the certainty of more war