Improving Special Teams

In January the Seelye Indoor Athletic Facility opened up for use. With student-athletes from the football team, baseball and softball teams, and the men and women soccer teams the one's who will probably benefit the most will be the punters and kickers on the football team. Coming off of an up and down season in 2002, the opening of the Seelye Center was a welcomed site for players such as Adam Anderson.

Adam Anderson returns as a redshirt junior and the teams starting punter for the 2003 season. Anderson told us how he feels about the Seelye Center; "Actually the Seelye Center has been an absolute blessing because usually I don't get a chance to work out during the winter. Just to be able to have that and to be able to practice during the winter has been a real help over spring ball and stuff. I had a lot better spring ball even though the game didn't show it. But, I've been hitting the ball a lot better than in the past."

During the 2002 season Anderson punted 21 times for 746 yards including a long punt of 58 yards. In practice however, Anderson has been known to consistently make punts of over 50 yards. "I know one of the things that I need to do is to get consistent with my drop. My drop has kind of been all over the place, which it caused most of my inconsistencies. That's where my focus has been," Anderson told Broncos Illustrated.

Backing up Anderson is redshirt freshman Matthew Sitz. Sitz comes to the Broncos from Manistee High School in Manistee, Michigan. Sitz had a decent spring but his range right now is around the 25-35 yard per punt distance. "Matt is real consistent in his motions. There's a reason that not everybody in the world is able to punt the ball and part of that is just because you got to be able to pop on the ball and Matt has trouble with that sometimes," Anderson said of Sitz. "But, he's come a long way since the last time we were together in the fall. But Matt just needs to work on just locking his leg out and he could be something, he can play here."

At least for the punters, this should be the first season the Broncos do not have a battle for the starting position which should benefit Anderson and his lofty goals. "I want to lead the MAC," he told us. "I don't want to cut myself anything short of that. I know I have the potential to be something great in the MAC, even nationally. So, I need to get consistent with my drops, that's where my focus is going to be."

The kickers are another story for the Broncos. The Broncos return their two starters from last season. Senior Anthony Apa and redshirt junior Robert Menchinger shared starting duties throughout the 2002 season and could possibly end up doing it again during the 2003 season. Apa led the Broncos in PAT's making 22-22 while Menchinger made all 12 of 12. The 34 PAT's in 34 attempts put the Broncos at the top of the MAC in making 100% of their PAT attempts. In field goals however Menchinger was 7-9 including the game winning kick against Eastern Michigan and Apa converted 8 kicks in 14 attempts. The most memorable moment for either Menchinger or Apa came in the final game against Central Michigan. After the snap on a PAT try went bad, Menchinger picked up the ball then found an open Mobolaji Afariogun to throw to. Afariogun caught the ball at the 13-yard line and ran it in for the 2-point conversion.

Over the spring Menchinger used the Seelye Center to help work on his kicking. Talking to Anderson kind of explained why Menchinger was having a difficult time, "as far as Rob's been, he had a knee injury. He's always been solid and Rob's drops have always been consistent. We all know we can count on Rob."

Also returning for the Broncos are a trio of redshirt freshmen Isac Bush, Justin Glanz and Steve Wloszek. Bush who hails from DeWitt, Michigan was able to handle a couple of the kickoffs in the opening game against Indiana State last season, but didn't see any action after that. Glanz walked on the team after finishing his high school career at East Kentwood High School in East Kentwood, Michigan. Wloszek is from Berkley, Michigan where he went to Shrine High School.

Whatever the reasons were, the Broncos went out during the 2002-2003 recruiting season and found a solid punter/kicker at Monsignor Pace High School in Miami Shores, Florida. Mike Jones joins the Broncos in August and depending on whether or not he gets redshirted for the 2003 season he could be a factor in who is ultimately named the started. Last season Jones put 83% of his kickoffs in the endzone that ended up being touchbacks. He also converted 52 PAT tries in 54 attempts. As a punter he averaged 40 yards per punt.

With the help of the Seelye Center, the 2003 punters and kickers for the Broncos have a chance to rebound from an up and down 2002 season. Also the battle for the starting kicker could become a quite interesting one to watch this summer.

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