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Every time you turn on the television to watch the Hokies play, you can count on hearing the announcers mention many times the great work that Frank Beamer has done with kick blocking during his tenure in Blacksburg. So exactly how much of a difference has been made by blocking kicks during the Beamer Bowl Era (1993-2003)? Letís take a look and find out. (Note: All information comes from the 2004 Virginia Tech Media Guide.)
From the years 1993 to 2003, the Hokies blocked a total of 71 kicks. The season numbers average from a low of 2 total blocks in 1999 to a high of 12 total blocks in 1998. That turns into an average of 6.45 blocked kicks per season during the Beamer Bowl Era, which is a very impressive number.
In those 11 years, the Hokies have turned those 71 blocked kicks into 101 direct points. In other words, they either returned the blocks for a touchdown, returned a blocked PAT for a 2 pt. conversion, or blocked a punt out of the end zone for a safety. That number has given the Hokies 9.18 points per season off direct points from blocking kicks.
Also during the Beamer Bowl Era, the Hokies have scored 129 indirect points off blocked kicks, meaning that while the blocked kick wasnít returned for a score, the offense was able to either convert the possession into a touchdown or field goal. The Hokies average 11.72 points per year off indirect points from kick blocking.
Taking the two averages together, that means that during the Beamer Bowl Era, Tech has averaged 20.9 points per season either directly or indirectly from blocking kicks. Considering all the media attention the Hokies have received over the years because of their ability to block kicks, that doesnít seem like a very impressive number, especially when considering that it doesnít even add up to 2 points per game during the 11 year run. However, when you consider the backbreaking momentum that a team can gain from dominating a game on special teams, the results have definitely been worth Frank Beamerís efforts.
Another point to consider is that the pressure from Techís punt blocking team, or Pride and Joy as it is officially called, has caused many an opposing punter to wilt under the pressure. If the NCAA kept a stat on the number of shanked punts that were forced, the Hokies would probably lead that category as well.
During the past few years, Tech has been successful in setting up the punt return just by their reputation of punt blocking. Opposing coaches have shown a tendency to use maximum protection in their punt formations, and Frank Beamer has taken advantage. Since 1999, the Hokies have returned at least 1 punt for a touchdown every season. Ricky Hall took one back that year, Andre Davis returned 3 for touchdowns in 2000 and another in 2001, and DeAngelo Hall found the end zone on 2 returns in 2002 and 3 in 2003. That comes out to 70 points off punt returns since 1999, with plenty of other very good returns that didnít go for touchdowns as well.
Kick blocking came in especially handy in 1998, when the Hokies fielded the least productive offense during the Beamer Bowl Era. Despite not being able to move the ball or score consistently, Tech was able to win or play competitively in every single game because they blocked an amazing 12 kicks during the course of the season. That 1998 team blocked 8 punts, 2 field goals and 2 PATs. They converted them into 21 direct points and 24 indirect points, good for almost 4 points a game. In seasons where the offense isnít very potent, it is critical to find ways to score in other ways or to get the offense great field position, and that is exactly what the Hokies did in 1998.
Fast forward to 2004. In a year that closely resembles 1998 in
that there are no proven big time play makers on offense, kick blocking could be pivotal if the Hokies hope to have a
successful season. A blocked punt could decide the outcome of any of the swing games this season. The Hokies play N.C.
State, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia all at home, and they have the ability to beat all of them. However, all of
those teams could very well beat Tech as well, so Frank Beamer would put his team in a much better position to win if he
can figure out a way to establish dominance in the kicking game. It could be Techís ace in the hole.
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