Jan. 4, 2000
By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS – It’s all about hang time nowadays for Jimmy Kibble.
The Virginia Tech punter’s average dropped significantly this season, from a
three-year average of 41.8 yards to 38.4 yards. That’s because he focused more
on keeping the ball in the air longer, he said.
And that’s a good thing, considering the dangerous Peter Warrick will be
waiting every time Kibble booms a punt in the Sugar Bowl tonight, when the
Hokies and Florida State Seminoles play for the national championship.
“I’m going to try my best to kick the way I kicked all season, keeping the
ball high,” Kibble said. “A 45-yard kick that hangs up in the air for five
seconds is unreturnable.
“As long as I give my headhunters in the coverage team time to get down
there, I don’t think Peter’s going to be able to make a move.”
Kibble punted 46 times this season. Only nine of them were returned, for a
total of 36 yards, both figures among the best in the nation. He also boomed a
64-yarder, something he won’t be trying to duplicate in the Sugar Bowl.
Warrick averaged 12.6 yards on 16 punt returns this season, including one
for a 75-yard touchdown. Hokies coach Frank Beamer called him “the most
dangerous player I’ve seen with the ball in his hands.”
“I’ve seen him make things happen just that you would never have suspected,
something that seems impossible,” Kibble said. “I’d rather kick a 35-yard
punt that he can’t return than a 55-yarder that he’s going to bring back to the
Warrick seemed on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy this season until he
was suspended for two games for his involvement in a shopping mall scam. But
Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said he hopes Warrick won’t be out for vindication
“I don’t think he would ever go out there with the mind-set of trying to
make up for anything,” Bowden said. “I hope not. I hope he’s thinking that
this is his last ball game and we’re trying to win the national championship.”
But so are the Hokies. Long snapper Shane Beamer, the coach’s son, said the
pregame focus has been on making sure the Virginia Tech punting game is ready
“It’s not just Peter Warrick,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of good
athletes. They use good players up front and there’s a lot of guys we have to
“They’ve really stressed to us to get the snap off. That’s our number one
priority. And once that ball’s kicked and you’re done blocking, get your butt
downfield because Warrick’s back there getting ready to bring it back.”