Virginia Tech entered Saturday night’s showdown against Clemson ranked 110th in the country in net punting average, and after another subpar performance by punter Scott Demler, that figure is unlikely to improve.
Demler averaged just 29.4 yards on eight punts, including a season-worst 11-yard effort early in the third quarter after bobbling a snap. That one seemed to change the momentum of the entire game, as Clemson marched down the field in three plays and took a 17-3 lead when tight end Dwayne Allen caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Tajh Boyd.
The sold-out crowd of 66,233 at Lane Stadium didn’t hold back, booing the redshirt junior lustily after his fifth-straight erratic game as the team’s starting punter. He’s now averaging just 33.1 yards on 23 punts this year.
“It’s unfortunate because if only they knew how hard everyone tries on this field,” said Demler, who was pulled from last week’s game at Marshall in favor of wide receiver Danny Coale. “It’s disappointing when it happens, but I know I can do a lot better.”
Demler said he should have been driving the ball more rather than going for hang time with wind gusts of up to 20 miles per hour on the field. He even switched to a rugby-style punt in the second half, because that’s what he used in high school.
But during his postgame news conference, Coach Frank Beamer sounded as if he might stick with Demler next week when the Hokies take on Miami.
“We need to get settled and we got what we got,” he said. “We’re gonna keep going down the path. We can’t keep going back-and-forth. I know that.”