In No. 13 Utah’s loss to Florida last Saturday, wide receiver Devaughn Vele returned one punt, for 10 yards, as he took over a role that’s been occupied for years by the school’s all-time leading punter returner, Britain Covey.
It marked the first time Vele has returned punts in a game since he was in high school.
“I try not to think too much because the biggest thing I was nervous about was trying to fill Covey’s shoes,” he said. “Everybody talks about how great a punt returner Covey is. But I’m not Covey — I’m my own kind of punt returner. I try not to focus too much on that and just do what I’ve got to do and make the plays I need to make.”
Vele picked up a lot of tricks and helpful hints from Covey.
“I was the second punt returner when Covey was here,” he said. “He taught me a lot about little nuances. I’ve got some big shoes to fill but I’m looking forward to it.”
As for Utah’s kicking game in the opener, Whittingham liked what he saw.
Whittingham said he was “proud” of placekicker Jordan Noyes and his performance in The Swamp.
In the second quarter, Noyes booted a 43-yard field goal and a 31-yard field goal against Florida.
“We won the special teams battle. But special teams weren’t a big factor in this game,” Whittingham said. “There were no big, standout special teams plays that swung momentum. We were solid on special teams, which is good to see because last year we had our struggles special teams-wise.”