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Appreciation for the Punter

You can tell Virginia Tech punter Brent Bowden has been good through the Hokies' first two games because no one is talking about him. Like officials, kickers and punters rarely get noticed unless they've done something negative.

That hasn't been the case for Bowden this year. Through two games, he's leading the ACC and is 10th in the country in punting average at 45.8 yards per punt.

Of his 11 punts this season, six have been returned for an average of 8.2 yards, three have been fair caught and two have been downed. So far his gunners have been doing their jobs as well. The longest punt return by an opponent so far has been Javier Arenas' 15-yard return in the first game of the season.

Bowden and the punt coverage team did a good job of mitigating Arenas' effect on that game. When he fair caught a ball inside the 20 in the second half, I could sense a bit of frustration that he hadn't been able to get into space against the Hokies. Frank Beamer was right when he said in the preseason this could be the best special teams group we've seen at Tech.

That fair catch was one of four that Bowden has put inside the 20-yard line this year. That's a higher rate than the 24 he put inside the 20 out of 69 punts last season and the 28 inside the 20 he had in 88 punts in 2007.

Bowden is not one of the nine players on the Ray Guy Award watch list, but if he keeps punting like he has through the first two games, he should be considered one of the nation's top punters at the end of the season.