Aug. 11, 2012
By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia concluded its first week of camp with a special teams practice on Saturday afternoon, inside Scott Stadium. The seventh practice of the week saw UVa donning shells after holding a closed practice in the morning, serving as the first two-a-day of the season.
After the graduation of kickers Robert Randolph, Jimmy Howell and Chris Hinkebein following the 2011 campaign, the search has been on for their replacements heading into 2012. Saturday’s open practice was a special teams emphasis practice where the kickers were evaluated.
“We will be evaluating the field goal kickers on their ability to make kicks and the guys that are punting we want to see how they flip the field for field position will be important,” commented UVa head coach Mike London prior to Saturday’s practice. “The kick off guy is going to be important because of the new rule (touchbacks on kicks come out to the 25 yard line). Most team’s strategy might be to kick it five to seven yards deep in the end zone and [have opponent] take a knee. I don’t think too many teams are going to take the ball out of the end zone. We will evaluate the leg strength and see if there are one or two guys that can handle the majority of the kicking duties, or have different kickers for different situations.”
Drew Jarrett, who did most of the PAT kicking in 2009, returns to the squad for 2012. Jarrett hit a practice-long 52-yard field goal on Saturday in a straight 11-on-11 field goal attempt drill. Jarrett and redshirt freshman Ian Frye each hit 50-yard field goals earlier in the drill.
Some of the other special teams drills included punt and field goal block drills. London stressed the importance of the additional phases of special teams as an avenue for some of the younger Cavaliers making a mark on the team.
“There are also the chances some of our younger guys can play four phases of special teams roles that can help us,” mentioned London. “A lot of our depth is going to be with our younger players and this practice is going to be a good indicator of where we are from a skill level.”
Virginia will hold its annual Meet the Team Day at John Paul Jones Arena on Sunday, Aug. 19. Players and coaches will be available for photos and autographs from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The main entrance as well as the arena’s southeast and garage entrances will be used for Meet the Team Day. Each entrance will open at 1:30 p.m.