Full Version: ULM changes punt returner for Troy
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Louisiana-Monroe made a move to jumpstart a struggling punt return unit.

Freshman J.J. McCoy has been installed as the primary punt return specialist, displacing senior Mason Denham. McCoy takes his shot at keeping the job Saturday when ULM plays host to Troy at 2:30 p.m. at Malone Stadium.

"Right now, he's our No. 1 punt returner," ULM coach Charlie Weatherbie said. "J.J. McCoy is. We feel like he does a great job catching the football and has done a great job fielding in practice."

McCoy played cornerback and wide receiver, and returned punts at Garland (Texas) High School last season. He returned two punts for 110 yards and a touchdown in a district win over Naaman Forest.

Last week McCoy had two returns for a 3.0 yard average against Arkansas in his debut.

"We put a lot of pressure on him in practice," Weatherbie said. "He went into the Arkansas game and had two opportunities. One he fair caught and the other he took off running. We feel like he's got the talent to not only catch it but be a good return guy."

Not only was Denham struggling to field punts cleanly, but also he has averaged just 3.2 yards per return on six attempts. Last week Denham lost a fumble after absorbing a hard hit on a free kick return after a ULM safety. The turnover with ULM trailing 3-2 was a momentum-changer in the Arkansas game.

"We just felt a little more comfortable putting a guy back there that was more consistent catching the ball," Weatherbie said. "Mason had some problems there.

"Mason Denham needs to be in there spelling Calvin Dawson and being in the running back situation and helping this football team in that role."

As a team, ULM is averaging 3.2 yards on punt returns, which ranks last in the Sun Belt. By contrast, ULM opponents are averaging 11.8 yards on their punt returns.

Bowl thoughts: The New Orleans Bowl moved to Lafayette but the location doesn't matter to Weatherbie.

"You can play this thing at any stadium across the country and it would be a great opportunity for whoever gets that opportunity," Weatherbie said.

What a rush: While beating North Texas, Troy rushed for 283 net yards on 64 rush attempts.

The 283 yards on the ground for Troy was its third-highest total of the Division I-A era and was the fifth best total in any game since the 1997 season. In addition, the Trojans' 61 rush attempts against North Texas were the second most for Troy since the 1994 season.
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