Preseason position reviews: punter

July, 6, 2011
7/06/11
6:00
PM ET
Punters often don't get much respect, but if you understand the value of field position, you understand the value of a good punter.

California and UCLA might be offensively challenged this fall, but if their defenses step up, they might be able to steal a few games by being opportunistic after their punter creates a field-position headache for their opponents.

So how does the entire conference stack up? Read on.

Great shape

California: Bryan Anger, first-team All-Pac-10, is on the short list for the Ray Guy Award. Huge foot. Averaged 45.6 yards per boot in 2010, which ranked sixth in the nation. Twenty one of 62 punts downed inside 20-yard line.

UCLA: Jeff Locke is also a leading Ray Guy candidate. He led the conference in punting last fall at 45.8 yards per punt and earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors. Twenty four of 64 punts went for 50-plus yards.

Washington: The Huskies actually have two good punters. Will Mahan averaged 40.6 yards per punt in 2009 and got off to a good start in the 2010 opener at BYU -- 45.2 yards per boot -- before getting hurt. Then Kiel Rasp stepped in and averaged 43.8 yards per punt. An "or" was between the two on the post-spring depth chart.

Good shape

Oregon: Jackson Rice averaged a solid 42.3 yards per punt in 2010, with 18 of 40 punts downed inside the 20.

Stanford: Dan Zychlinski didn't punt much last season -- see a conference-low 27 punts -- but he averaged a decent 41.8 yards per attempt.

Oregon State: Johnny Hekker averaged 41.7 yards per punt, which ranked eighth in the conference.

Utah: Sean Sellwood, a South Africa native, was solid last season with a 41-yard average. Ten of his 33 punts were downed inside the 20. On the worrisome side, three of his punts were blocked.

We'll see

Colorado: Zach Grossnickle is back. That's good. His 35.7 yards per boot average from 2010 is not. Potentially more good news: Mark Brundage, a transfer from Rice, averaged 44.2 yards for 26 punts in 2009. They will compete for the starting job.

Washington State: Dan Wagner averaged 51 yards per punt last season. On one punt. Of course, he backed up one of the nation's best punters in Reid Forrest and had a solid spring.

Arizona State: Josh Hubner is a touted junior college transfer. At 6-foot-4, 230, he looks like a tight end.

USC: Kyle Negrete was No. 1 on the depth chart after spring practices. Incoming freshman Kristopher Albarado was one of nation's top recruits at the position.

Arizona: Kyle Dugandzic takes over for Keenyn Crier, which might be a good thing because Crier was the worst punter in the conference last season.

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