MORGANTOWN - With the new offense installed this year by Dana Holgorsen, veteran place-kicker Tyler Bitancurt may not have as many chances to boot field goals for West Virginia this year.
That doesn't bother the 6-foot-1, 197-pound native of West Springfield, Va., though. "Seven points is better than three," he said. "I'd like to kick more PATs."
Bitancurt, who made the All-Big East team as a redshirt freshman, did not do as well last year as a sophomore. His numbers weren't quite as good.
"I got a lot of kicks blocked," he explained. "But we're working hard as a unit to correct that now. We want to make sure that doesn't happen this season."
Bitancurt stressed that field goal kicking success hinges on four components working in unison: The snap, the hold, the blocking up front, and, of course, the actual kick.
Unless all four are flawless, and in an uptempo manner, the whole opportunity could fail. A mistake in just one phase of that operation likely ruins the whole works, of course.
Being quick is vital, according to Holgorsen, WVU's new head coach for 2011. "It's probably .15 of a second. That's the difference in the guy coming off the edge blocking the kick," Holgorsen said.
He added that he was happy with improvement he saw in the kicking game in the fall camps last scrimmage. There was a definite cut back in the number of blocked kicks during the pre-season drills.
Working with Bitancurt and fellow kicker Cory Smith, senior long snapper Cody Nutter and redshirt freshman holder Mike Molinari round out the place-kicking team.
Bitancurt has appeared in 26 games to date. He made 13 of 15 field goals and 41 of 42 PATs as a freshman. Last year he was 10 of 17 in FGs and made all 41 extra points.
"The numbers are there," he acknowledged. "We work very hard in the off-season and we've worked hard in fall camp. We are trying to make sure that we'll be good in special teams this season."
He stressed that all parts of the process have to be executed properly - and quickly - for kicks to go through the uprights. "If the kick fails, I try to determine from film if it was my fault," he said.
"Going into my junior year, I feel good. I feel comfortable. I'm excited. I can't worry about the past. I like to look at this year and how I might do as a kicker.
"It is a trust-by-trust situation. We were doing a lot better in camp: The snapper, holder and kicker."
Bitancurt insists that he put the responsibility on himself. He believes he's expected to get out there and make the kick automatically.
He works hard to correct any mistakes he makes so it won't be repeated.
"We now try to speed up the process," he said. "We must get our thing down - and quicker."