Broncos kicking ace day to day
BOISE, Idaho -- Chris Petersen sure would like to seek Kyle Brotzman booting footballs all over the field again real soon.
Brotzman, the nation's active career leader for total points (389) and Lou Groza semifinalist, is nursing a sore kicking leg and has been on rest and rehabilitation duty for nearly three weeks.
Petersen is coy when pressed for specifics of Brotzman's injury, saying only that the team's all-time leader in field goals is day to day heading into Boise State's (No. 4 BCS, No. 2 AP) Western Athletic Conference showdown Saturday with Hawaii.
"We're hoping and we're counting on him" being ready, Petersen said Monday. "We'll just have to see how he is here in the next couple of days."
But there's no hiding the fact the undefeated Broncos miss Brotzman's strong, accurate and reliable leg -- in all aspects of the kicking game.
Brotzman has been a fixture in the Bronco kicking game for four years. In 46 games, the one-time walk-on from Meridian, Idaho, has made 60 of 79 field goal attempts, at one point nailing 118 straight extra points. He also averages 44.3 yards per punt.
But 3½ seasons of being Mr. Everything in the kicking game may have taken a toll. Brotzman missed an extra point and didn't punt against San Jose State on Oct. 16. Petersen held him out last week in a 49-20 victory over Louisiana Tech.
His absence was noticeable on the first Bronco drive, which ended when backup Jimmy Pavel missed a 30-yard field goal attempt. The punting game also struggled, with one punt fluttering just 14 yards before going out of bounds. After another mediocre punt, the Broncos lined up on a fourth down with quarterback Kellen Moore in the shotgun. But Moore punted instead, rolling the ball 54-yards for a touchback that was one of the few bright spots for special teams during the game.
Petersen even acknowledged that not having Brotzman or much confidence right now in his backups could alter the way the Broncos handle fourth downs against the streaking, high-scoring Warriors (7-2, 5-0).
Does a chip-shot field goal attempt for Brotzman become a fourth-down gamble to get a first down without him? Can freshman punter Trevor Harman help the Broncos win the field possession battle against a Warrior team averaging 39 points per game?
"Not having him could change strategy, sure," Petersen said. "We'd like to think we could hit some chip shot field goals without him. But it certainly does get you thinking."
The Broncos (7-0, 3-0) will also be without tight end Tommy Gallarda for the rest of the season. Petersen said Gallarda had surgery recently to repair a broken foot suffered against Louisiana Tech and could be healthy enough to play in the postseason.
Gallarda has seven catches for 63 yards and three touchdowns this season, but his real value is his run blocking. Junior Kyle Efaw, who has 12 catches for 168 yards and three TDs, will step into the starting role.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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