Chris Gould prepares to punt Maryland into a hole.
Virginia’s Chris Gould has been a valuable piece of the special teams puzzle this season. Obviously, his game-winning kicks against Middle Tennessee State and Connecticut provided the winning margin in those games. But he’s also been a clutch performer with his pooch punting, an important piece of Virginia’s victory against Wake Forest last week.
In the fourth quarter with UVa trailing 16-10, Gould bombed a kick 44 yards with less than 9 minutes remaining in the game. Wake’s Kenny Moore decided to fair catch the ball at the Deacons’ on 6-yard line. Virginia’s defense held the visitors to three plays and forced a punt that gave the hosts field position at their own 44-yard line. From there, the Hoos drove for the game-winning touchdown.
Had Gould’s punt bounced for a touchback, Wake Forest would have taken over at its own 20 instead of its own 6. If the Demon Deacons had gained the same 8 yards and punted for the same 42 yards, Virginia would have taken over at its own 30 instead. More than likely, however, WFU would have been able to use more of its playbook on 3rd-and-6 at the 24 instead of the 10. Trapped at the 10, Wake used the fullback for four yards and punted.
In short, that punt helped change the outcome.
On the season, Gould has punted 18 times and 14 of the 18 kicks have landed inside the 20-yard line. That 77.8% rate is an important success statistic for a team that frequently relies on defense and special teams as games are closely contested. He has had just one touchback on all of his punt attempts to boot.
How good has his pooch punting been? Take a look.
- At Wyoming, a 50-yard punt was downed on the 1-yard line with 2:09 remaining in the half. The defense held and the offense scored its only points of the day on the next possession thanks to better field position.
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