MOSCOW One of the few bright spots during the Idaho Vandals 1-11 season last year was the play of its special teams.
Punter Bobby Cowan shattered just about every school record he could get his hands (or foot) on, while kicker Trey Farquhar was one of the best long-distance guys in the nation. However, that chapter of Idaho football is long gone and the next group of specialists is here.
Even with the stellar performance of Farquhar last year, the Vandals were one of the worst teams in college football when it came to putting points of the board. Both sides of the ball look completely different this year, and while the Vandals are optimistic that new coach Paul Petrino will get them in the end zone more frequently, its likely they will need to attempt a lot of field goals during the course of the season. When that happens, Idaho will be relying on freshman kicker Austin Rehkow.
Rehkow experienced his 10 minutes of fame last year while playing at Spokanes Central Valley High, when he booted a 67-yard field goal to send a game into overtime. The kick, which set a state record, landed him on the front page of NFL.com and made it onto ESPNs Sportscenter.
Of course, one sensational kick doesnt guarantee success for the rest of someones career. In fall camp, Rehkow has struggled with accuracy. Even extra points, which need to be routine for every offense, have been an adventure for the Vandals.
In the case of an emergency, freshman kicker Ryan Bordner might be called upon to attempt a field goal or kickoff, but so far Rehkow has received most of the reps as kicker.
Rehkow will most likely be seeing time as a punter as well this year, as the Vandals do not have a true punter on their roster. Petrino said Tuesday that freshman defensive lineman Will Schmidt could be used as a punter if needed, but for now hes planning on using Rehkow for both.
Hes doing a great job punting, he can send the ball really deep, junior receiver Dezmon Epps said. As a returner, you want to get under the ball but he kicks it far enough to make you go backwards a lot of the time, make you trip over yourself if youre not careful.
Epps will be one of Idahos primary kick returners this year along with freshman running back Richard Montgomery, senior receiver Najee Lovett and possibly sophomore cornerback Solomon Dixon.
All four players have breakaway speed and good hands, but Montgomery might be the most dangerous of them all.
Richard and I have some races over in the gym over the summer and he got me three or four times, Epps said. Its close, but hes a bit faster than me. Richard and Najee, theyre my boys and they do just as much work as me, so Im not scared to let them step up and return kicks either. I know they can do it just as well as I could.