Inside The Game – Miami

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Jimmy Howell averaged 42.7 yards per kick against Miami.

During Virginia’s disappointing 24-17 loss to Miami, there were several near misses that have created a lot of ‘what if’ feelings for the Cavaliers. One group that didn’t have a ‘what might have been’ day, however, was the punt coverage unit led by true freshman Jimmy Howell . Howell recorded 7 punts for 299 total yards, an average 42.7 yards per punt. That included a career-long 58-yarder.

The 42.7 average represents the best of Howell’s young career for a game with more than one attempt. To make it even more impressive, 5 of the 7 punts came to rest inside the 20. That’s the most by a Hoo punter since 2003 when Tom Hagan had five against Duke.

“He had an exceptional day. [The punt team] played great, played tremendous,” safety Corey Mosley said. “They put the defense in good position for us to make some stops so the offense can back out there and do their thing. They had a great day.”

Indeed, the coverage team had a lot to do with Howell’s success. With players like Hall Simmons, who Howell said is “one of the hardest working guys on the team”, leading the charge downfield, the coverage guys smothered multiple kicks inside the 10-yard line.

“I’ve never had something like that,” Howell said of the five kicks inside the 20. “Before the game, all the guys where coming up to me and saying ‘just have fun.’ I went out there just having fun and not thinking about anything. Obviously, I was thinking about doing my job and helping the team, but just having fun. They did a fantastic job with the protection and pinning them inside instead of it rolling into the end zone.”

“They do a great job,” Howell said later. “We do pooch punts every Sunday and every Thursday, a whole period’s worth. Every time the guys are either catching it or downing it. The punt team guys are fantastic.”

Is there an art to dropping the ball in the so-called coffin corner