Fresno State Fall Camp is less than two weeks away and in preparation BarkBoard.com is taking a look ahead to the position battles. While there are many new eyes on the coaching staff and coaches won’t be guaranteeing any starting spots, BarkBoard.com picks our starting locks and analyzes position battles. Next is the special teams:
What is there to know about the Bulldogs’ special teams in 2016? Well for one, Dave Ungerer is taking over the role, previously held by Fresno State Defensive Line Coach Pete Germano.
In 2015 opponents returned five kicks and punts for touchdowns, while the Bulldogs failed to return any. Two kickers combined to make 8 of 12 field goal attempts - both return this season. The highlight of the special teams in 2015 was punter Garrett Swanson who has graduated.
Open - Kicker - Kody Kroening / Jimmy Camacho
Unfortunately, the kicker position is likely more complicated than just Kroening and Camacho, but they are most likely to handle the field goal duties in 2016. The Bulldogs have brought in several walk-on additions to the position, but regardless of talent, coaches typically shy away from putting young, inexperience kickers in high-pressure situations. That doesn’t mean you won’t see a new face on kickoffs, or even extra points.
When the Bulldogs need three points, it will most likely be between the two returning legs. Kroening took over the kicking job as a walk-on freshman out of necessity and has remained the primary kicker ever since. In his two underclassmen seasons, he has made 15 of 22 field goals.
Fresno State brought in Jimmy Camacho as a proven kicker recruit last fall, but he was not as consistent in practice as the coaches had hoped. Ultimately, the coaches opted to use Kroening for field goals of 40 yards or less and Camacho for over 40 yards. Camacho made two of four attempts last year.
On Wednesday, Fresno State Head Coach Tim DeRuyter revealed that Camacho had been dealing with a health complication last year. That could explain consistency concerns and open the door for Camacho to step into the Bulldogs’ go-to kicker regardless of distance.
Open - Punter - Blake cusick / other
Fresno State will have to replace Swanson this year and Blake Cusick is expected to take over the position. A group of several walk-ons will compete for the job, but Cusick is undoubtedly the frontrunner. He was recruited as a preferred walk-on and redshirted last year. Now, he’s ready for the job.
Cusick is also expected to be the team’s holder on field goals.
Open - Returner - DaMari Scott / Tyquwan Glass / Jamire Jordan
DaMari Scott and Jamire Jordan split kick returns while Scott and Tyquwan Glass split punt returns last year. None of the three managed to return one for a touchdown. Scott did have a 66-yard kick return and Jordan had a 50-yard punt return.
Preseason talk would suggest Glass will be handling punt returns this year. Look for Scott and Jordan to split kick returns once again. A change in coaching philosophy could result in more success from the three athletes in 2016.
Lock - Long Snapper - Justin Verrell
You may or may not have given it much attention, but Dylan Detwiler was a four-year long snapper for the Bulldogs, one of the most steady role players on the team.
Justin Verrell of Bakersfield College has been learning behind him and will be a senior this year. He is the likely choice to handle the long snapping duties in 2016.
Fresno State has added a walk-on this fall and had a player try out an make the roster in spring. Look for them to compete for the spot in 2017.
Ret: Scott (Kickoff), Glass (Punt)