In the middle of a bunch of nothing, there was something.
Punter Ryan Rehkow etched his name into the BYU record books during Saturday’s 27-17 win over Arizona State.
Stuck on a third-and-out for the third consecutive drive, BYU was forced to punt from its own 17-yard line. At that point, it seemed the Sun Devils would have a fair chance of having good field position, which would help in piecing together a scoring drive.
Rehkow instead booted an 83-yard punt — the longest by any Cougar in school history — to prevent any sort of advantage for Arizona State.
“It feels pretty cool,” Rehkow said. “I didn’t know it at the time, but I found that out. That’s an honor. That’s pretty cool.”
Having a strong punter is an obvious advantage to a team, but it especially helps the defense by providing a longer field to be able to put a stop to opponents’ offenses.
Linebacker Ben Bywater said having a “stud” such as Rehkow on special teams helps alleviate pressure.
“I’m sure you guys saw, we were pinned down to our own goal line and he was able to flip the entire field,” Bywater said. “As a defense, that really takes a lot of pressure off. For us to have that field position and be pinning them on their own 20 is something huge for us, and I think it’s helped us get a lot of momentum in our games.”
The record-setting punt wasn’t the only big play the special teams produced in that game.
The Cougars were able to score their first touchdown against the Sun Devils thanks to Talmage Gunther, who forced a fumble, and Hayden Livingston, who recovered the fumble, during the game’s first player after the kickoff.
The Cougar offense, however, is hoping to start producing more in games and not have the type of slow starts people have seen through the first three games.
For offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick, he believes the Cougars just need to play better. But the last two teams BYU has faced have had tougher defenses than any of the teams the Cougars faced last year.
Against Arizona in the season opener, the Cougars weren’t sure what they would see from a team that had a completely new staff and multiple transfer players on the roster.
“We’re been talking about that a lot,” Roderick said. “We can talk about how good the defenses are and make excuses or we can just be accountable to ourselves and each other and figure out how we can play better and play a little cleaner. We’ve improved in every game and I think you’ll see continued improvement.”
Through three games, BYU is averaging 25.67 points. And the Cougars aren’t satisfied with that.
Wide receiver Gunner Romney believes the team is on the verge of breaking out and having higher-scoring games. In the past two games, BYU has left a lot of points on the field, Romney said, but it hasn’t hurt the team because the defense has been able to hold teams to 16.67 points per game.
For that jump to happen, Romney said the offense will need to be more consistent with execution.
“We had a conversation at the beginning of this week and nobody on the offense is satisfied right now because we know the capability that this offense has and we know how many points that we can put up if we play well,” Romney said. “We’re right on the edge right now. One breakout game is all we need and we’ll be solid.”