In nearly every sports media I visit there is an article blaming the WVU punt returners for WVU’s lack of a return game. The position of punt returner at WVU has become synonymous with the term ‘tackling dummy’.
When was the last time you saw a WVU punt returner with room to catch the ball and run after making the catch?
The punt returners barely have room to catch the ball. By the time the ball gets to them they are surrounded by defenders who are waiting to slam them to the ground. This affects their concentration on the catch.
If they drop or muff the ball, or don’t get out of its way, they are screamed at by the coaches and fans. How about we start screaming and yelling at the other 10 WVU players who failed to block for them.
Being successful at returning punts begins with blocking techniques. You can put the best punt returner in the nation at WVU and he is going to become nothing more than a tackling dummy for defenders. After a while his concentration goes away in anticipation of being hit the moment he touches the ball. Running with the ball is out of the question.
Poor blocking on punt returns often comes from a poor blocking scheme. That is a direct result of coaching. Coaches have to design effective protection, and then have the players practice and execute it during games.
I feel sorry for WVU punt returners. It has come to the point if they make a miscue, they are going to have most everyone yelling at them, or they are going to be driven hard to the ground. These guys would much rather catch the ball and have an opportunity to run with it.
If WVU can improve the punt return blocking, you will see fewer mistakes and more runs after the catch.
The punt return game begins with protection. As of now, the return player has none.