Each day, I’ll post a blog with all the nuts-and-bolts information about a position and many of the quotes I’ve collected. The next morning, we’ll run a feature story on the position in the newspaper.
Today: Special teams
Newspaper story here.
41 Dan Goodale, 5-10, 185, R-Sr.
49 Tyler Rausa, 5-9, 192, R-So.
16 Blake Gonzalez, 5-9, 168, Fr.
19 Sean Wale, 6-2, 186, R-So.
46 Kevin Keane, 6-0, 207, Jr.
42 Matt Cota, 6-1, 189, R-Fr.
Dan Goodale, 5-10, 185, R-Sr.: He was 17-of-19 on field goals last season but missed the one kick most people remember, a potential game-winner from 43 yards at San Diego State. He seems primed for a strong final season.
Sean Wale, 6-2, 186, R-So.: Shared the job with Trevor Harman last year, averaging 41.5 yards per punt. He also placed eight of his 21 kicks inside the 20-yard line.
Kevin Keane, 6-0, 207, Jr.: Starting long snapper last year and for four games in 2012.
Matt Miller, 6-3, 213, R-Sr.: Primary holder for the past two seasons.
Shane Williams-Rhodes, 5-6, 158, Jr.: Averaged 14.6 yards per return on 16 attempts last season with a long of 43 yards. He ranked 11th in the nation.
OR Donte Deayon, 5-9, 152, Jr.: Averaged 21.4 yards per return on five tries last season with a long of 48 yards.
Bryan Douglas, 5-9, 175, R-Sr.: Averaged 30.4 yards per kickoff return last season, including a 100-yard touchdown against San Diego State. He would have ranked second in the nation with enough attempts.
Charles Bertoli, 5-11, 200, R-So.: He served primarily as a lead blocker last year. Starting tailback Jay Ajayi also could fill this spot.
Overview: The special teams are loaded with experience and speed and under the direction of Kent Riddle, who helped build the Broncos’ tradition of excellence in the kicking game from 2001 to 2005. Goodale is confident he’ll make his senior year his best. Wale could be a standout if he’s consistent. And Williams-Rhodes, Deayon and Douglas provide a dynamic trio in the return game.
Key to success: The Broncos have been uncharacteristically sloppy on special teams the past two years. They allowed two kickoff returns for touchdowns in 2012 and a punt return for a touchdown in 2013 — mistakes that played key roles in the two losses to San Diego State. These units likely will provide some big plays, but they also must prevent the big mistake.
Reason for concern: The Broncos still need to develop some younger players to help shoulder the burden of special teams snaps and provide reliable backups when injuries come up.
Star player: Junior safety Dillon Lukehart has won the Broncos’ Special Teams Player of the Year award for two straight seasons. He isn’t flashy — he didn’t win the Hammer for any game last year — but he performs his assignments consistently.
Breakout performer: Sophomore safety Chanceller James was the Scout Special Teams Player of the Year in 2012. He missed all of last season with a knee injury but he enters 2014 as one of the core special-teamers. He’ll be active and physical in the kicking game.
Newcomer to watch: Redshirt freshman linebacker Joe Martarano of Fruitland High will get his first chance to contribute on special teams. With his size and athleticism, he’ll be a candidate to win the Hammer.
— Riddle on expectations: “Our best guys on the field, because that gives us an advantage. Secondly, what we’re expecting is unbelievable effort. We want to look on the film on every play and see guys giving everything they’ve got to hold a guy up, to beat a guy, to make a tackle, to strip the ball, to get to the last block and get our returner free. If we see those two things, the rest of it will be fine.”
— Riddle has made some changes to the special teams but he said usually schemes and language carry over fairly well from coach to coach.
— Riddle on the special teams units: “We’re deep. We’ve got talent. We run pretty good. I know we give great effort. I think our guys are smart players. But that being said, special teams is the one time stuff comes up once in 30 years. So we’re trying to cover all that stuff. It’s the one place in the game you get a lot of stuff where people are like, ‘I’ve never seen that before.’ We’re trying to prepare for those situations and make sure we have a well-coached football team, smart guys who know how to react to those situations.”
— Riddle on Goodale: “I expect him to have a big year. He’s really shown me to be a mentally strong guy. He works at it. That guy works his butt off to make sure it’s perfect and I think we’re in good shape there.”
— Riddle’s top performers on special teams: Lukehart, Chris Santini, Darren Lee, James, Chaz Anderson, Cleshawn Page, Jonathan Moxey and Corey Bell.
— Goodale on his camp: “I feel really good. I’ve been hitting the ball pretty cleanly throughout all of camp. Now as we get into game prep I feel really good about where I’m at and am looking forward to the season.”
— Goodale estimated that he has made 90 percent or more of his kicks this preseason. “We’ve also been working on expanding our range a little bit,” he said.
— Goodale: “I’m a lot more comfortable this year than I was last year.”
— Goodale on his career: “I’ve had a lot of lows and I’ve had some successes too. It’s been up and down but I have an opportunity to go out on a high note and show that I’ve improved every year and gotten better, so I’m just looking forward to ending my career on a high note.”
— Goodale on extending his range: “I’m more comfortable as we have longer kicks because I think I’ve kicked more kicks from outside of 45 in practice during fall camp this year than I have probably in the rest of my career.”
— Goodale on 2013: “I thought I had a great year. You always look back — I wanted to have that one kick back. I fee like I’m right there. I’ve just got to get right over the hump, I guess. I had a good year. I was hitting the ball consistently all year and I just happened to have one kick I’d like to have back. So this year I’m looking forward to getting another opportunity like that so I can put it through and go out on a high note.”
— At San Diego State, Goodale said he tried to hit the kick a little harder because it was outside 40 yards and pulled it. “I felt like I was a lot more mentally prepared for the San Diego State kick. I felt comfortable and I was confident I was going to make it. I just had a bad hit on that one kick. Whereas TCU, I wasn’t very confident with my swing and I was really nervous. Evaluating those two I thought I made a big step. The result was still the same, but now having that learning experience from both of them I think I’ll be able to put myself over the top.”
— Goodale: “I think I’ve improved every year and have gotten better but there still is a little more I want to do so I’ve been focusing a lot this summer on that.”
— Goodale: “I’ve been through everything. I’ve missed game-winners and I’ve had some success on the field, too. I had a great year last year, in my opinion, besides one kick.”
— Goodale said the three missed PATs last year were because of a protection issue when a lineman was injured, a dropped hold and a bad kick. “I don’t expect very many of those to happen this year, if any at all,” he said.
— Coach Bryan Harsin on Goodale: “Dan has done a good job with that group, in particular leading that group and having those guys prepare when it comes their time to practice.”
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