As the special teams coordinator at Oklahoma State, DeForest oversaw some of the best in the country. He left in Stillwater perhaps the best punter and kicker in the country next year in Quinn Sharp. He was third in the nation in punting average last season, made 22 of his 25 field goal attempts, was the leading kick scorer in the country and led the country with 61 touchbacks on kickoffs.
OK, so DeForest can't take all the credit for that, and he's not likely to turn Smith or Molinari or Tyler Bitancurt into Quinn Sharp. But after 22 years of coaching kickers and punters, he's gotten to know how to handle these guys and make them better.
That includes what he's now doing at West Virginia, which is filming the kickers and punters every day and going over technique before every practice.
"It's just something you work at,'' DeForest said. "And anytime you work at something you get better at it, just like the players do. But I've also been very fortunate that I've had great specialists. We've recruited great specialists and they've performed.''
There's more to special teams than just kicking, of course. There's coverage and returns, placement, all sorts of things. There's also finding the right players to man the teams. That was an issue as recently as last season when Holgorsen would almost routinely fire most of a kickoff coverage unit, replace them and wind up replacing them again, sometimes in mid-game.
There are two things Dunlap and DeForest hope will help that situation this year: more scholarship players and more emphasis.
"The problem here in the past is we've never been up to speed with people,'' Dunlap said. "We've been under scholarship [limits] a little bit and we just didn't have enough bodies running around. By the time you go to midseason on we started running short of bodies because of injuries and that kind of thing. You can't put every one of your starters on every special team, so we tried to prioritize what starters we put on those teams.
"The punt is always your first priority. There aren't many plays that average 35 or 40 yards a play. And the coverage teams always take a little bit of a priority over the return teams. Those are the can-get-you-beat teams.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.