MORGANTOWN - It's not all about attitude, but it helps to start with a good one.
That seems to be at least a bit of the philosophy of Joe DeForest as he tries to repair West Virginia's not-always-special special teams.
A bad punt or a bad kick? Well, those can be addressed through mechanics and practice and film study and just plain old hard work. But if, as seemed to be the case more than once a year ago, those punters and/or kickers start thinking too much about their failures, well, that's often too much of a hurdle to overcome.
"If they let it get in their heads, then no amount of fundamentals in the world is going to help them,'' DeForest said. "That's got to be first and foremost. Then we can work on mechanics.''
As West Virginia goes through 15 spring practices this month and next, most of the focus is, naturally, on tweaking and refining an offense with worlds of potential and building a brand new defense from the ground up with a virtually new coaching staff and a host of new faces on the field.
But there's also a new emphasis on special teams, one that's perhaps long overdue. Dana Holgorsen has shuffled his staff and put Steve Dunlap in charge of the special teams. He hired DeForest away from Oklahoma State primarily to serve as the new co-defensive coordinator, but also for his acumen as a special teams guru.
Oh, might he have been nice to have had around a year ago when first Corey Smith and then Michael Molinari went through their stretches of 50- and 60-yard punts followed by strings of frustrating shanks and misfires.
Already Dunlap is noticing a difference.
"They're getting coached. Joe DeForest is coaching them and he knows a lot about kickers,'' Dunlap said. "A lot of those things that happened to them last year, there were a lot of us here who couldn't fix it. I've never been a guy who could coach the kickers. Joe's a guy who understands the kickers and the snappers. He's going to be a big bonus.''