Hoping to Make a Difference

Some areas of Boise State's special teams have taken a hit in recent years, while others have gotten better. Such is college football, where it is tough to be top-notch in all areas all of the time.

Boise State 's Kyle Brotzman has been able to beat out highly-heralded punter Brad Elkin and Brotzman has thus done double duty the last three years.  He converted on 18-of-25 field goal attempts last season with a 52-yarder against Utah State .  Brotzman is a better punter than placekicker, averaging 43.9 yards per kick with 15 inside the 20.  He needs to trust his blockers on punts and not rush to kick the ball rugby style.   

Titus Young is one of the best kickoff returners in the nation.  Young averaged 26.9 yards last year with two touchdowns, including one for 108 against Idaho .  Doug Martin is the perfect complement to Young and he averaged 29.7.  Jerrell Gavins also faired well with 37.3 yards per return on three tries.     

The Boise State coverage teams allowed just 19.1 yards on kickoffs and 6.9 yards on punts.   

As I did with the Virginia Tech special teams, I took a game from last year and analyzed Boise State 's special teams using the criteria set forth by an Alabama fan and modified by me.  This "checklist" was put together by "Outsidethesidelines" on the Alabama fan board to evaluate special teams.  It is fairly complete and well-done.  I took the liberty of adding a few of my own categories to the list.


  • ·                            Kick-off length

  • ·                            Kick-off location and positioning

  • ·                            Kick-off hang time

  • ·                            Ability of kickoff team to get downfield and surround the ball carrier

  • ·                            Tackling ability of kickoff team

  • ·                            Onside kick placement

  • ·                            Onside kick recover ability (on both sides)

  • ·                            Deep snapping on punts

  • ·                            Punt protection

  • ·                            Quickness of punter's release

  • ·                            Punt length

  • ·                            Punt location and positioning

  • ·                            Punt hang time

  • ·                            Punt return defense

  • ·                            Punt blocking abilities

  • ·                            Blocking for the punt returner

  • ·                            The punt returner's actual return abilities with ball in hand

  • ·                            The punt returner's ability to safely catch the punt

  • ·                            The punt returner's decision making ability on when to call for a fair catch and let the punt bounce, or when to take a kneel on a kick-off

  • ·                            Deep snapping on field goals

  • ·                            Quality holding by the holder

  • ·                            Timing between the snapper, holder, and kicker

  • ·                            Blocking by the field goal protection unit

  • ·                            Ability of the kicker to elevate the ball over the line to avoid a block

  • ·                            Kicking power of the kicker

  • ·                            Kicking accuracy of the kicker

  • ·                            Field goal blocking abilities

  • ·                            Kickoff return—Blocking

  • ·                            Decision-making ability of the kickoff returner

  • ·                            Ability to catch kick

  • ·                            North-south running on the kickoff

  • ·                            Physical ability of returner to break tackles

  • ·                            Returner's speed with the ball

  • ·                            The faking and maneuverability of the ball carrier

  • ·                            Coaches' ability in making correct decisions with regard to utilizing special teams units

  • ·                            Ability to successfully take wind and other playing conditions into account on all kicks

  • ·                            Ability to avoid special teams penalties (clipping, roughing, kicks out of bounds, etc.)



Boise State opening kickoff—Brotzman kicked the ball near the sideline on the eight yard-line with four seconds hang time.  By the time the TCU returner got to the 15, there was one Bronco at the 20 and two more at the 25.  When the return man got to the 20, five Broncos were in the area.  The TCU player got through the initial contact but three other Broncos brought him down on the 23.  

TCU punt—it was a beautiful punt with six seconds hang time.  Kyle Wilson caught it at the Boise State seven and his momentum carried him back to the five.  Bronco players were running down the field and trying to keep up with the TCU gunners but none of the three were blocked and Wilson was tackled at the 15.  

Boise State punt—Perfect snap.  Only one TCU defender surged towards Brotzman and up-man J.C. Percy had him blocked.  The punt had four seconds hang time and came down to the right of the right hash at the TCU 32.  Five Broncos were in position but the returner gained 14 yards before going out of bounds.  

Boise State kickoff, leading 7-0—Brotzman had 4.5 seconds hang time.  The kick was caught on the left hash at the three.  TCU had a good wedge set up at the 15 but by the time the ball carrier got there, three Broncos had broken through.  The returner somehow knifed through them.  Seven more Broncos were at the 20 and eventually Wilson and Jason Robinson nailed him at the 24.  

TCU punt—4 seconds hang time.  Wilson caught at the Boise State 28.  Two Broncos were trying to get back.  Jerrell Gavins made a great block to free Wilson who made it to the 48 but a clipping penalty was called on Jeron Johnson.  

Boise State field goal attempt from the left-hash at the 36—terrific blocking.  The snap was perfect, the hold was good, but the kick was wide right.  

TCU punt—Robinson fought through his block but was still two yards away when the ball was kicked.  The kick had four seconds hang time and bounced 10 yards in front of Wilson .  Five Horned Frogs ran unimpeded and Wilson had nowhere to go.  

Boise State punt—the snap was perfect and great blocking.  Brotzman got five seconds hang time on this one that forced the returner to back up and catch it near the sideline at the TCU 17.  Two Broncos were at the 20 to meet him.  Cedric Febis dove but missed and Gavins fell down.  Chris Roberson corralled the ball carrier at the 26.   

TCU first punt of second quarter—there was no penetration at all from Broncos.  The punter was able to get off a high kick with five seconds hang time to the middle of the field at the 20.  Two Frogs were at the 25 and three more at the 30 when Wilson fielded the punt.  There was no blocking and Wilson had nowhere to go.  

Boise State 's second field goal attempt—the snap was perfect, hold perfect, and the kick was perfect from 39 yards out (right hash).  

Boise State kickoff, leading 10-0-- Brotzman got a four-second hang time to the left hast at the TCU four.  TCU had a good wedge set up at the 15.  Doug Martin broke through it to make the tackle at the 20.  

TCU punt—the snap was a bit low.  Febis had some penetration from the right side but still two yards away from the punter when the ball was kicked.  The punt had five seconds hang time to the Boise State seven.  Wilson let it go and the ball rolled out at the four.  

Boise State punt—the snap was a little high.  Good blocking, especially by Percy as he had his man well-blocked.  Brotzman got off a kick of four seconds to the left hash at the TCU 26.  There were two Broncos at the 30 and another at the 35.  TCU had good blocking, allowing the returner to go through all three.  Seven Broncos awaited at the 35 and Chris Roberson tackled him at the 37.  

TCU kickoff, trailing 10-7—Five seconds hang time to the back of the end zone.  Martin told Wilson to down it but Wilson kept going.  Martin was consequently not in position to block since he didn't expect it to be run out.  Wilson was tackled at the 9.  

TCU second half kickoff—The kick had three seconds hang time, a low line drive that bounced at the 10.  Young picked it up there.  There were two TCU defenders at the 25 and four more at the 30 but tons of Boise State blockers.  Michael Choate made a great block on the initial gunner.  Wilson placed a tremendous block at the 25; he totally had his guy engaged.  Winterswyk also made a tremendous block.  Young got to the 30 yard-line.  

Boise State punt—The Broncos punted from the 39.  It was a good snap, but there was a fierce rush by TCU.  A TCU defender broke through between Percy and Hunter White and very nearly blocked the kick, which bounced out of bounds at the TCU 23 for a 38-yard kick.  

TCU punt—The kick had four seconds hang time.  Wilson called a fair catch and made it at the 18.  

TCU Field goal from the 29—Tevis got good height, but the ball went over his head for a field goal.  

TCU kickoff with the score tied at 10—The kick had four seconds hang time to the right hash at the four yard-line.  Young caught it there.  There were three blockers at the 15.  Five Frogs were at the 20 and two more at the 25.  Travis Stanaway made a great block to spring Young to the 28.  

Boise State punt from their 35—It was a very low snap.  Brotzman kicked the ball rugby style and the kick was very nearly blocked.  He only got three seconds hang time and the ball hit at the TCU 25.  It was downed at the 26.  

TCU punt from their own 28—No pressure at all.  The punter got off a beautiful kick with 5.5 seconds hang time.  Wilson signaled a fair catch since four Frogs were bearing down on him.  

Boise State fourth quarter punt from 47—One defender going up the middle broke through but was well blocked by Percy.  Brotzman got off a punt with five seconds hang time.  Martin and Gavins were down covering for Boise State .  The punt was to the middle of the field at the TCU seven.  Gavins tripped up the returner at the 12.  

Boise State punt from the 33—Nope.  Instead, Kyle Efaw snuck over the line from the right side of the Bronco line and Brotzman hit him with a pass.  Efaw took the ball to the TCU 43 for a gain of 24 yards.  

Boise State kickoff leading 17-10—It was a kickoff with 4.5 seconds hang time to the left side at the TCU 3.  The Horned Frogs had a good wedge set up once again at the 20.  There were 10 Broncos between the 20 and 25 and the returner ran into the wall at the 24.  

TCU punt from 29—Martin got great height from the left side of the Bronco line and nearly blocked the punt.  George Iloka was there as well.  Wilson caught the ball going backwards near the sideline at the 18.  Gavins made a great block at the sideline near the 30.  Wilson was run out of bounds at the 34.  

Boise State punt with 5:48 left from the 34—A TCU defender broke to the right of #48.  Brotzman kicked the ball rugby style and once again it was nearly blocked.  He got four seconds hang time but the TCU returner caught it on the run near the sideline at the 30 after a 36-yard kick.  No Bronco was within eight yards at the time.  Smith, Efaw and #25 all made diving attempts on the sideline but came up empty.  Another Bronco, #48 dove and missed.  The returner got to the 32, where Brotzman and Aaron Tevis forced him out.  

Boise State punt from their 44—Good penetration but Brotzman got the kick off with four seconds hang time.  The ball bounced with Wilson and Martin both downfield to cover it.  Wilson downed the punt at the 1.

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