Through the spring, I’ll preview each position on the Boise State football team.
Today: Special teams
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RAUSA PROVIDES HOPE OF SMOOTH TRANSITION
The Boise State football team recruited Tyler Rausa two years ago to compete for the starting job with Dan Goodale.
Goodale won, and excelled, while Rausa redshirted and served as a backup.
Now it’s Rausa’s turn as he enters his redshirt junior year. The Riverside City College transfer is the only scholarship kicker on the roster.
Special teams coach Kent Riddle said Rausa has lowered the level of concern with losing a veteran kicker.
“(Goodale) is a heck of a kicker,” Riddle said. “Tyler Rausa’s been awesome this spring and we expect him to do the same.”
Rausa was 15-for-20 on field-goal attempts at Riverside in 2012. He made one PAT for the Broncos last year.
Goodale was 16-for-21 on field goals and 67-for-70 on PATs last season. He also was a terrific kickoff specialist (65 touchbacks on 103 attempts).
PERSONNEL AT A GLANCE
49 Tyler Rausa, 5-9, 195, R-Jr.
16 Blake Gonzalez, 5-9, 178, R-Fr.
45 Isaac Dodd, 6-1, 189, Fr.
19 Sean Wale, 6-2, 185, R-Jr.
46 Kevin Keane, 6-0, 212, Sr.
42 Matt Cota, 6-1, 189, R-So.
Returning starters (1 of 2): Goodale is gone but Wale is back after averaging 42.0 yards per kick last season. Wale placed 20 of 66 punts inside the 20-yard line. He hit 14 punts of 50 yards or more. He also got better as the season progressed. He averaged 49.5 yards on eight punts in the Fiesta Bowl. “He finished with his best game of the year in the Fiesta Bowl and he’s really built on that with confidence,” Riddle said. “We’ve seen good things from him.”
Key losses: Goodale’s departure leaves the Broncos without an experienced kicker. Dallas Burroughs and Bryan Douglas, who were seniors last year, handled 30 of 60 kickoff returns. Linebacker Chris Santini, who was a key special-teamer, transferred. Two-time Special Teams Player of the Year Dillon Lukehart retired. Linebacker Blake Renaud, one of the biggest hitters on special teams, also was a senior last year. And running back Charles Bertoli, the lead blocker on kickoff returns and a strong special-teams player, left the program during spring ball.
Other key returners: Keane returns for his third season as the starting long snapper. Wale returns as the holder. Wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes (8.5-yard average) and cornerback Donte Deayon (10.2 average, TD) will compete for the punt-return job. Kickoff returner Jeremy McNichols (20.7 average) returns. Williams-Rhodes and Deayon also could get some time at kickoff returner. “If we’ve got a chance to put the ball in (Williams-Rhodes’) hands, we’re going to do it,” Riddle said.
Other players to watch: Linebacker Darren Lee, whose physical style often set the tone on special teams, becomes the face of the coverage/blocking units.
Projected starters: K Rausa, P Wale, LS Keane, H Wale, PR Williams-Rhodes, KR Williams-Rhodes
Out for spring: McNichols
Incoming signees: None, but the Broncos’ emphasis on defensive backs and wide receivers in this class could impact special teams this season and definitely will in 2016 and beyond.
– Williams-Rhodes on the punt return battle with Deayon: “We kind of both battled injuries last year. At the beginning he was hurt. At the end I tweaked my foot, so he was the punt returner.”
– The Broncos’ biggest special teams weakness last year was kickoff return. They averaged 18.8 yards per return.
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SPRING BALL COVERAGE