We are within weeks of spring football beginning, and with it, we are one step closer to finishing our reviews of each position group from the 2022 Mountain West football season. Last week, we took a look at the top defensive back groups in the conference. This week we will review the top defensive line groups. With that being said, let’s take a look back at the top kickers and punters in the Mountain West.
The Cowboys had the top kicker in the league in John Hoyland who made 22 out of 25 field goals, including a long of 55 yards. Wyoming also had the third best punter in Clayton Stewart who averaged 44 yards per attempt. The Cowboys might have the top special teams unit in the conference heading into this fall.
San Diego State
The Aztecs love their do-it-all kickers, and Jack Browning was elite this past season. Not only was Browning the top punter in the conference, averaging 46 yards per punt, but he also finished third in field goals made with twenty.
Daniel Gutierrez was money for the Rebels this year, missing only one field goal in 19 attempts. The kicking game may have been the biggest strength of this team, as they also finished fifth in punting average.
It was really difficult to gauge where the Aggies should be placed in terms of kicking. Their field goal percentage wasn’t great (70%), but they attempted only 17 field goals. However, their punting was great! The Aggies finished third in the conference with an average of 42.7 yards per attempt.
I was hoping I could slip the Lobos into the “Good” category; punter Aaron Rodriguez had by far the most attempts in the league and still managed to finish second in yards per punt. Unfortunately for the Lobos, their kicking game was atrocious. They only made 13 of 21 field goal attempts, the worst in the conference.
As good as Jonah Dalmas was kicking the ball, I had to place the Broncos here because their punting was atrocious and their inability to flip the field hurt the them over the course of the season. The Broncos took a big step in bringing James Ferguson-Reynolds from Australia and putting him on scholarship. Can he take a step forward in 2023?
Like the Aztecs, the Rainbow Warriors relied on one man to do all the kicking. Matthew Shipley was solid in the kicking game making 80 percent of his kicks. However, punting was a different story for Shipley who managed only 40 yards per punt.
I thought the kicking game would be a strength for the Wolf Pack heading into the 2022 season. It is hard to gauge the kicking game, as the Wolf Pack had only 17 field goal attempts (a reflection of their offensive struggles). Nevada’s punting was awful, averaging less than 40 yards per attempt.
San Jose State
The biggest weakness of this team may have been their kicking game. The Spartans finished eleventh in both kicking and punting. For a team that was not far from contending for a conference championship, poor performances on special teams may have been the difference maker.
It is pretty amazing that this team managed to win a conference championship despite the struggles they had in the kicking game. Kicker Abraham Montano made only 63% of his kicks, and the Bulldogs averaged only 41 yards per punt.
The Rams were spoiled in the kicking game for a long time. 2022 was a sharp contrast to what this team was accustomed to. The Rams failed to average 40 yards per punt and were middle of the pack in terms of kicking field goals. With the struggles the offense had, it is important to have an elite kicking game and the Rams weren’t even close.
For a team that prides itself on discipline and doing all of the little things, it was shocking to see how bad the Falcons were at punting the ball. Air Force had the lowest average in the conference, managing only 37 yards per punt. Luckily, they had the fewest punt attempts in the league. In terms of kicking, the Falcons made 16 of 21 attempts, an acceptable number but far from the elite kickers some teams had.
Which team in the Mountain West had the best kickers and punters? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.