Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer announced through his official Web site Tuesday afternoon that he plans to stick with redshirt junior Scott Demler as his starting punter when the Hokies take on Clemson this Saturday.
Demler was removed from last week’s game at Marshall in favor of wide receiver Danny Coale after his second punt of the day traveled just 25 yards. It was the fourth consecutive game in which Demler had a punt of less than 30 yards.
What made Beamer’s announcement odd is that it came just a couple hours after he told reporters at his weekly news conference that not only was he going to continue giving Demler, Coale and freshman Michael Branthover a chance to compete for the starting job this week in practice, “I haven’t decided when I’m going to decide.”
Beamer did, however, seem to be leaning towards either Demler or Branthover because of his concerns that Coale could have a tired leg after running around on offense throughout a game.
Among Football Championship Subdivision players eligible to be ranked, Demler’s 35.1 yards per punt average is the second worst in the country. As a whole, the Hokies rank 116th out of 120 FCS teams in punting average.
Here’s what Beamer had to say about his punters Tuesday before announcing Demler as the starter:
“I can tell you that Demler, Branthover, and Danny Coale I’ll throw in there, but those first two in particular kicked great yesterday. They were booming that ball. If we can just take that boom to Saturday we’ll be right, and I think we will. We’ve got good kickers. We’ve just got to get some confidence, get them in there in some game situations, and that’s the hard thing to do. You think about it … a very exact movement and you’re coming off the bench and you haven’t been in there running around. . . .
“[Demler] has been very good, and Branthover has been the same way. This guy has a world of talent. He can boom it. And we’ve got a couple more that are good kickers. The problem has just been being consistently good. When you see Demler and he’s getting good height on it and he’s getting it down there about 40 yards, that’s all you want. Well, that’s not all you want. It’s good enough. I wouldn’t mind having 45 with great height, but I’ll take 40 every time and a fair catch. He can do what we really want him to do. It’s just getting him confidence and getting him comfortable.
“And then Branthover has got a little bit of a longer leg. When he hits it, he hits it good. The only problem with him is sometimes he doesn’t get the height, he doesn’t get the distance plus he doesn’t get the height, and now you’ve got a low liner, and a low liner is bad in this business because that one usually comes right back at you.”