MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — On a day where West Virginia fell behind and its offense looked out of rhythm, sophomore punter Nick O’Toole provided a spark in the 24-17 win.
Twice in the fourth quarter with the score tied, O’Toole delivered absolute bombs that flipped the field on William & Mary.
“Shout out to Nick O’Toole—talk about flipping the field,” WVU coach Dana Holgerson said. “He was averaging over 50 yards a punt. Our defense was in great field position the whole day.”
With 14:56 left in the game, O’Toole blasted a 56-yard punt from his 27, forcing the Tribe all the way back to their 22-yard line.
Minutes later, WVU went three-and-out again, this time from its 13.
“We were backed up, I knew I needed to come up with a big kick,” O’Toole said. “I saw the returner lined up at the 50, so I was like, I better get it over his head.”
He did that and more, booming a 60-yarder that pushed William & Mary back to its 25, and set the stage for WVU’s go-ahead score.
O’Toole finished the day with his five punts for a 50.6 average. Last year’s WVU punters only averaged 38 yards a kick.
The junior college transfer showed no signs of being nervous in his first game at the Division I level.
“I build it up in my head, but once I get out on the field it all goes away,” O’Toole said. “It’s all muscle memory and I just stay true to me technique.”
O’Toole will have more one-on-one time with an individual coach as WVU has made former defensive coordinator, Joe DeForest, the new special teams coordinator.
“It’s been an honor to work with Coach DeFo—he’s helped me get mentally tough,” O’Toole said. “We’ve been working on my flexibility and getting more consistent with my technique.”
— C.J. Ricker