James having another solid season |

James having another solid season

Paul Schofield

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia football team didn’t do much right Sept. 20 at Maryland.

The offense was out of whack, and the defense was soft.

One of the only things that was positive about the loss was the continued consistent punting of Todd James of Ringgold High School. The senior averaged 41 yards per kick and limited one of the nation’s most dangerous return specialists, Steve Suter, to a six-yard average on six returns.

The Mountaineers punt coverage team, at times, frustrated Suter, who peered at the West Virginia sidelines numerous times after punts.

“He seemed pretty ticked off,” James said. “To hold a returner like him down was a great achievement. The entire unit did a great job.”

James often used an unorthodox style by using a rolling out, rugby-style punt. He also used the regular-style punt. Both were affective against the Terrapins and other opponents this season.

“I wasn’t sure how it (rugby style) would work when the coaches introduced it,” James said. “Here at West Virginia, we have a motto ‘trust your coaches.’ It’s worked out well.”

James said there are a lot of advantages of using the rugby punt. The kick is similar to a soccer goalie running and kicking the ball after making a save.

“The rotation of the ball is different,” he said. “It’s hard to handle when it hits the ground. It also helps to get outside your opponent’s rush. It helps to slow down their rush because they don’t know where you’re going to kick from. It’s been effective.”

James is having a pretty good season. He has punted the ball 26 times and is averaging 41.7 yards per kick.

“I feel like I’m having a solid season,” James said. “I still need to be more consistent. I’m working on things that I can improve on. I’ll be better by the end of the season.”

James is working on his directional punting. It’s something he hasn’t worked on at practice too much because he’s been doing other things.

“I have to fine tune some of my techniques,” he said. “We’ve worked hard on the rugby punt and on protection at practice.”

The protection let him down on his first punt of the season. Wisconsin blocked James’ first kick for a touchdown. It helped the Badgers in their 24-17 victory.

“I’m over that now,” James said. “But at the time, it probably cost us a chance at a victory.”

James did everything for the Mountaineers last year. He averaged 37.4 per punt, and he handled the place kicking duties. He made 46 of 50 extra points and 11 of 16 field goals.

But those kicking duties are now handled by transfer Brad Cooper, and that’s just fine by James.

“I can concentrate more on punting,” he said. “If I had to place kick again, I’m ready. But not place kicking is a benefit for me.”

It gives James and his punt coverage teammates more time to worry about another great punt returner — Miami’s Roscoe Parrish. He returned a punt for a touchdown in the Hurricanes’ latest victory over Boston College.

West Virginia (1-3) opens the Big East Conference season against Miami (4-0) on Thursday at the Orange Bowl.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.