UVA’s Brian Delaney will be triple-threat at kicker
Junior Brian Delaney will handle placekicking and kickoff duties when UVA takes the field at Pitt on Saturday, which was not exactly unexpected.
He’s also listed atop the depth chart at punter, along with former walk-on Nash Griffin.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall conceded the scenario – one guy handling all three phases of the kicking game – is unprecedented for him.
“It’s a tribute to Brian that he’s had the kind of numbers that he has, and it makes him more valuable. I’m pleased with what I’ve seen there,” Mendenhall said at his weekly presser on Monday.
Delaney was an impressive 12-for-16 on field-goal tries in 2018, including going 3-for-3 from 40-49 yards, with a long of 46.
His emergence, after struggles in the kicking game in Mendenhall’s first two years in Charlottesville, gave the offense another dimension.
Lester Coleman handled the punting duties a year ago, averaging 41.8 yards per kick, sixth in the ACC, but his ability to pin opponents down helped Virginia rank second in the conference in net punting, averaging 40.1 yards when factoring in returns and touchbacks.
Delaney, as the kickoff specialist in 2018, averaged 63.4 yards per kickoff, with 47 of his 73 kickoffs resulting in touchbacks.
UVA ranked 12th in the ACC in net yards per kickoff, at 39.0.
Delaney is the only player listed on the depth chart at the specialist position.
Freshman Justin Duenkel, a two-time first-team all-state kicker at Flint Hill (Great Falls, Va.) is the backup at placekicker.
Griffin has some pedigree, too – he was a two-time all-state kicker and punter at Lawrence Central (Indianapolis, Ind.) and was a basketball teammate at Lawrence Central of former UVA hoops star Kyle Guy.
Mendenhall said Monday that Griffin was awarded a scholarship on Saturday night based on his performance in camp, “so that kind of lets you know what I think of him and what I expect from him,” the coach said.
So, there is depth behind Delaney, which, good news, on top of the good feelings about Delaney’s performance in camp.
“What you like about it is that, through a competition and every kick being charted, that he was the demonstrated best regardless of circumstances,” Mendenhall said. “What you don’t like about is he as one player is the demonstrated best at all things. In case he gets beat up or roughed or something or has an off-day, that means all your kicking has an off-day.”
Story by Chris Graham