Oct 16, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Greg Stroman (3) returns a punt against Pittsburgh Panthers tight end Scott Orndoff (83) and linebacker Bam Bradley (4) during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 21-16. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
In the past, the Virginia Tech Hokies have been known for great special teams with tons of talented playmakers returning the ball and making big time kicks and punts including kicker Shayne Graham, and wide receivers Eddie Royal and Andre Davis. The Hokies became nationally recognized for great special teams which led to the now famous nickname, Beamer Ball.
Over the last few seasons, Beamer Ball has disappeared somewhat with people wondering what had happened to what had previously been a strength for the Hokies. This also made some people wonder if Frank Beamer maybe had lost his edge a little.
Now, Beamer Ball is making its return in Blacksburg.
One of the biggest reasons for the return of Beamer Ball is the fact that the Hokies have done a great job covering kicks and punts. The Hokies are tied for eighth for the least amount of yards given up per punt return with 3.1 yards allowed per punt return. This is a great sign of how good the Hokies have been at covering punts. The kick coverage has also been quite good and I wouldn’t expect the Hokies to allow a touchdown on a kickoff the rest of the season.
Meanwhile, Greg Stroman has been an impact return man who would probably have a higher punt return average than 8.9 yards per return. Stroman has had some big time runs and has made a big impact improving field position with his 38-yard punt return against Pittsburgh being the best example of how he can make a big impact on a return.
Joey Slye walked on to the program this summer and is already making a big impact as a kicker. Slye has been very good overall as he is 12 of 17 on field goals with 4 of them from over 40 yards and the other one being a block. Slye has proven he has the big leg and his long range accuracy has made improvement. The big thing with Slye is that he is completely reliable from inside 40 yards and should only become more reliable beyond 40 over the next few years.
A.J. Hughes has not been as good as he was last year based on numbers but Hughes has done a good job helping limit returners’ ability to make plays including UNC’s Ryan Switzer. Hughes has also had some shorter punts to make in certain games because of having less field to work with but he has done a very good job pinning teams inside the 20 when he has had the chance to.
There is still one area of weakness and that is with the kick returns for the Hokies. Deon Newsome and Demitri Knowles are solid but they just aren’t that good for Virginia Tech. The Hokies haven’t used Greg Stroman much on kick returns but you have to wonder if Stroman could be an upgrade on kick returns.
Overall, the special teams have been quite good and Beamer Ball is back.
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