So far in 2016, the Virginia Tech Hokies have had a great defense and productive offense but one area the Hokies have had some struggles is on special teams. In general, Virginia Tech’s special teams have been solid outside of their punting which had become a big issue.
After the departure of four-year starter A.J. Hughes, many expected a position battle between highly-regarded walk-on commit Brandon Nickle and veteran Mitchell Ludwig. Instead, Nickle flipped his commitment to stay in-state and the Hokies went with Ludwig who showed some promise but seemed to bring some risk.
During the first three games, Ludwig struggled immensely and had some fans even wanting Virginia Tech to give Joey Slye a shot at punter. Ludwig only had 1 punt over 50 yards in his first three games and averaged under 40 yards per punt in all three games with the only bright spot being that he had 4 punts inside the opposing 20 against Boston College.
However, things started to change soon after for Ludwig and over the past month, the redshirt junior has gone from arguably the biggest weakness of this team to someone that the Hokies can rely on.
In three of the past four games, Ludwig has averaged at least 40 yards per punt including a season-high 47.6 yards per punt against Miami in addition to a season-high 61-yard punt. Ludwig also had 2 punts of over 50 yards and 4 punts that went inside the 20 for the second time this season against the Hurricanes.
Overall, Ludwig has had 9 punts inside the 20 in the past four games with only the game against North Carolina in poor conditions being the only time he hasn’t a punt inside the 20 or averaged 40 yards per punt in the past 4 games. What the numbers make clear is that Ludwig has turned the corner and that has shown especially with his strong performance against Miami.
Ludwig’s performance against Miami also caused him to receive some national recognition.
NATIONAL PUNTER OF WEEK!
— VT Football (@VT_Football) October 26, 2016
Mitchell Ludwig was a part of the Pro Football Focus team of the week after his performance against Miami and fans came away with confidence in the punting game after Ludwig has made significant strides in the past few weeks before his big performance at home on Thursday night in Lane Stadium.
Going forward, Hokie fans will be hoping to see Ludwig continue to punt at this level and not regress to a level that caused some problems earlier this season for the Hokies. However, Ludwig’s last few games shown that the redshirt junior from Abingdon, Virginia is ready to build on this and perform at a higher level than even A.J. Hughes had the past couple of years.
Over the first two months of the season, Mitchell Ludwig has gone from being a liability to being someone the Hokies can rely on in controlling the field position battle.
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