Boise St Oklahoma St Football

Oklahoma State linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga (11) blocks a punt by Boise State punter Quinn Skillin (49) during the first half in Stillwater, Okla., on Sept. 15, 2018.

The Idaho Press is counting down the top 20 questions facing the Boise State football team heading into the 2019 season. The next entry in our series is question No. 14: Who will take over at kicker and punter?

The Boise State football team had a year to forget on special teams in 2018, finishing with decade-worst stats in both field goal kicking and punting.

Things were so bad that longtime special teams coordinator Kent Riddle was removed from his position and will now serve as associate head coach and tight ends coach.

Where do the Broncos go from here? It’s a fascinating question.

Not only will the Broncos have new leadership on special teams in 2019, but they’ll have a new kicker and punter as well. Both Haden Hoggarth and Quinn Skillin graduated after last season, leaving the Broncos with holes to fill at both spits. Typically losing multi-year starters at kicker and punter at the same time would be a big challenge, but for the Broncos it might end up being a welcomed change.

Hoggarth made just 12 of 20 field goals last season, and the 60-percent clip put Boise State No. 115 of 130 FBS teams in field goal percentage. It was the worst percentage for the Broncos since they made just 5 of 10 (50 percent) field goal attempts in 2001. The eight missed field goals last fall were the most for Boise State since 2010.

Believe it not, the Broncos were even worse punting the football, ranking No. 125 out of 130 FBS teams with an average of just 37.22 yards per punt. It was the worst mark for the Broncos since Keith Schuttler handled punting duties and averaged 37.0 yards per punt in 2001.

Two different punts for Boise State had punts blocked. And two different kickers had extra points attempts blocked. No matter what the Broncos tried last season, it just didn’t work. A blocked extra point and missed field goal contributed to the Broncos losing 19-16 in overtime to Fresno State in the Mountain West title game.

Joel Velazquez returns and will be a candidate at both kicker and punter. He was the favorite to do both jobs in 2017 as a redshirt freshman before Hoggarth and Skillin arrived as unknown transfers and won the jobs. Velazquez handles the kickoff duties and has a strong leg, but needs to find more consistency in field goal kicking. He has averaged 40.2 yards over 24 punts the past two seasons.

The Broncos were so desperate for improvement that they spent a scholarship on a high school specialist — a rarity these days. Gavin Wale, the No. 21-ranked high school punter in the nation by 247Sports out of Coronado High School in Nevada signed with Boise State in February. He also can kick, and likely will compete for both spots right away this fall.

Boise State also will welcome a graduate transfer kicker from Trinity College. Eric Sachse, who made 29 of 36 career field goals for the Division III school, will spend his final collegiate season with the Broncos and should compete for field goal kicking duties.

Want more news like this in your email inbox every morning?
Yes!

Velazquez, Wale and Sachse will compete this summer and fall for the kicking and punting spots. The Broncos can only hope the competition brings out the best in them — and brings improvement in 2019.

Who ends up kicking and punting for the Broncos, and how they fare compared to last year’s struggles, will be a big question to watch heading into the season.

Countdown to Camp Questions{/span}

No. 20: Can Boise State’s injured players return to form?

No. 19: Do the linebackers have enough talent and depth to produce?

No. 18: Will Boise State’s wide receivers be a strength?

No. 17: How will playing time shake out in the secondary?

No. 16: Which true freshmen could make immediate impacts?

No. 15: What are the toughest games on Boise State’s schedule?

{span class=”print_trim”}No. 14: Who will take over at kicker and punter for the Broncos?

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

Load comments