Weigand Punting Well

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Ryan Weigand returns as the punter after taking over the bulk of those kicking duties during the 2006 season.

Virginia entered spring practice in 2007 with a wealth of returning starters, including both specialists in place kicker Chris Gould and punter Ryan Weigand . Of course, the 2006 season featured a rollercoaster ride on special teams that started with Gould handling everything from kickoffs to punts. Virginia coach Al Groh has said throughout the spring that the kicking operation needs to improve this season, meaning that Gould, Weigand, and Noah Greenbaum are in close competition.

So how have the special teams performed?

We’ll take a look at the place kicking battle on Tuesday, leaving the punting situation as the focus today. Weigand stepped in as the starting punter last season as Gould started to show signs of inconsistency from juggling all the kicking jobs. While Gould still handled the “pin the opponent” duties, Weigand began to kick the rest of the time. He performed reasonably well, logging 24 punts for an average of 42.4 yards per kick.

Weigand’s long kick of the season measured 58 yards and while he wasn’t on the field to “pin the opponent,” he still put 5 kicks beyond the 20-yard line with only one resulting in a touchback. The California native had one punt blocked.

This spring, Groh said Weigand has faced game-like kicking situations in nearly every special teams session. As a result, Groh said that the unit is “ahead of where we were last year.”

“We’ve been sending our best punt rush team against our No. 1 protection team and each is working [the schemes] as competitive as they can. It’s been good for our protection and [the punt blockers],” Groh said. “That makes [Ryan] kick under game conditions, minus the crowd. … I’ve said before that punting is sometimes like going to the driving range [with the conditions], but in this case it isn’t. There’s been a spirited rush coming across at him. It has been encouraging to this point.”

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