MORGANTOWN - It's been a while since West Virginia's special teams were all this special.
But there they were on Saturday, shining from start to finish in the Mountaineers' 31-0 opening-game win over Coastal Carolina.
The punting game, which was probably the biggest question mark of this season, was superb. New punter Gregg Pugnetti, who spent all of spring and fall camp just winning the job from transfer Corey Smith, averaged 49.2 yards on six punts.
He put three inside the 20, three were 50 yards or better and West Virginia's net punting average was a magnificent 48.7 yards.
But if punting was the biggest question going into the season, kickoff coverage remained the No. 1 priority after failing miserably the last two years, But on Saturday it was superb.
Smith was the kickoff man and put three of his six kickoffs to the goal line or in the end zone and two others inside the 10. The other was a pooch kick that came down at the 18.
It was what happened after the kicks, though, that was encouraging. Coastal's returns were for 10, 22, 20, 18, 9 and 16 yards. That gave the Chanticleers field position at the 19, 22, 20, 18, 27 and 22-yard lines.
This from a unit that in each of the past two years was just as likely to put its defense on the field near midfield as anywhere else after a kickoff.
"It's all about the plays,'' said safeties coach Steve Dunlap, who is now in charge of the team's most troublesome special teams area. "That and Corey kicked the ball well.''
It was more than just the kicks, though. Coastal's return men never had a chance to get any running room and even turned the ball over on one kickoff.
"It's about the players. And we went back to fundamentals and basics,'' Dunlap said. "And a lot of our best players wanted to play on that team.''
Indeed, West Virginia's best defensive player, safety Robert Sands, was on the kickoff team. So, too, at times was Brandon Hogan, generally regarded as the team's best open-field tackler.
"Those guys don't like to be starting from the 50-yard line, either,'' Dunlap said.
All things considered, there probably was no pivotal play in Saturday's game. Lopsided shutouts don't generally turn on only one play.