By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
I’m running a series of blog posts breaking down each position on the Boise State football team. I’ll try to hit a new position after each practice.
Today: Special teams
Returning starters (1 of 2): The Broncos return the two kickers who shared the field goal/PAT duties last year — sophomore Dan Goodale and senior Michael Frisina. Goodale was 3-of-5 on field goals and 50-of-56 on PATs. Frisina was 3-of-4 on field goals and 21-of-23 on PATs. Also, the Broncos return starting long snapper Chris Roberson, who is a senior, and starting kickoff specialist Trevor Harman, who is a junior — but those positions aren’t counted in returning starter numbers.
Key losses: The Broncos lost starting punter Brad Elkin, who was terrific at pinning opponents. He placed 25 of his 43 punts inside the 20-yard line. They also must replace kickoff returner Doug Martin (33.8-yard average, one TD) and holder Hunter White.
Other key returners: Punt returners Mitch Burroughs (13.3-yard average) and Chris Potter (10.5) are back. Dallas Burroughs, Mitch Burroughs and D.J. Harper were in the rotation at kickoff returner last year.
Other players to watch: Redshirt freshman kicker Jake Van Ginkel was recruited to be the Broncos’ kicker but didn’t step up last fall. True freshman Sean Wale arrives in August and will get a chance to compete for the job at kicker and possibly punter.
Projected starters: PK Goodale (a total guess), P Harman
Position chart (in no particular order):
Punters — Harman, Van Ginkel
FG/PAT — Goodale, Van Ginkel, Frisina
Kickoffs — Harman, Goodale, Van Ginkel
Joining in August: Wale, who was more of a punter in high school but was recruited to compete for the kicker job.
— Tight ends coach Scott Huff took over special teams duties this year, replacing Jeff Choate (2006-11). To help him with the transition, he has talked to Choate, who is now at Washington State; Kent Riddle, who was the Broncos’ special teams coach from 2001 to 2005 and is now at North Texas; and Tom Osborne, who was the special teams coach at Arizona State when Huff was a graduate assistant and now is at Oregon. Huff visited North Texas. Riddle was at Boise State for the last two years of Huff’s playing career. Huff hopes to continue what Riddle and Choate built. “The culture has been great here, obviously, with the kids buying in on special teams and they really see the importance of it,” Huff said. “Hopefully I’ll be continuing that and trying to make it a little simpler here and there. Coach Choate did an awesome, awesome job and our guys have done an awesome job. So there’s not a lot that needs to be fixed other than the kicking situation, and hopefully we can get some of that stuff ironed out.”
— Huff will keep the Hammer, the award started by Choate and passed to the player with the biggest hit on special teams in each game. “I’d get hammered if we didn’t have the Hammer,” Huff joked.
— The new kickoff rules in college football almost certainly will limit the number of returns this season. I have a full story on that in Sunday’s newspaper.
— Harman likely will serve as the punter. He has a big leg but needs to become consistent. “The job is not set. It’s not mine,” he said. “I’m working as hard as I can to make sure it is going to be mine.” He never worked on punting until he got to Boise State. “I just want to be as valuable to the team as possible,” he said.
The Broncos wore full pads for practice Saturday for the first time this spring. Among the players who caught my eye in the first week of spring ball:
— WR Troy Ware. The Broncos were able to redshirt him last year because of their depth at receiver, but he should be a factor this year. He has consistently made plays and wide receivers coach Robert Prince said he might have the best hands in the group.
— DE Sam Ukwuachu. He’s going to be a matchup nightmare for offenses. He’s 6-foot-5, 215 pounds and he played wide receiver in high school. He has the quickness to rush the passer and the athleticism to drop into coverage like Shea McClellin often did. He also plays a spot where the team desperately needs a playmaker to emerge.
— CB Jamar Taylor. He reminds me of Kyle Wilson during the spring of his senior year. He doesn’t have anything to prove, yet he’s out there scrapping on every snap.
— WR Matt Miller. He has the look of a go-to wide receiver. Because of the injury that sideline him for most of his first year on campus, this year is his first chance to develop physically and focus on the details of his position.