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Borreson injury deals setback to U. kicking game

Senior sidelined; other kickers are getting more reps

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Bryan Borreson

Bryan Borreson

Bryan Borreson finds himself in a tough spot, again.

Utah's most experienced kicker, best known for his 41-yard field goal in the Utes' 3-0 win at BYU in 2003, has reaggravated a persistent groin injury.

"I'm frustrated. I'm 100 percent frustrated, but you've got to take it in stride," Borreson said. "It's an injury. It's something I've been fighting with for a long time."

Borreson, who underwent surgery after missing six games last season, was hopeful his senior season would be injury-free. And when camp opened last week, all appeared well.

"I felt real good. I was kicking really well, and then I kept pushing it and pushing it. Then I just took some steps back," said Borreson, who explained that nothing is torn and he could be back to full strength in a week or two. "We kind of deviated from the rehab schedule a little bit, and it didn't turn out too well."

The repaired injury began to flare up in the evening when iced after kicking.

"We were out here pushing it a little bit last week, and things kind of went south," said Borreson, who is a three-year starter.

His bid for a fourth, however, faces serious competition. Walk-on freshman Louie Sakoda and senior veteran Dan Beardall are now getting all of the reps in practice and making strides.

"It's hard when you've got guys who are looking good in practice competing against you," said Borreson. "They're showing up and kicking real well."

And that, for obvious reasons, is putting pressure on Borreson. His return, however, needs to be timed properly.

"If I come back too early and I hurt myself right away, I don't have a chance to compete," said Borreson, who is currently spending practice time in the infamous "Pit" doing unorthodox, but supervised, exercises to stay in shape. "And if I come back too late, the spot is already solidified."

Of the three kickers competing for the job, Borreson is by far the most experienced. In his 27-game career, he has made 24 field goals and 80 extra points.

Beardall, who is currently listed on the depth chart as a contender for both the kicking and punting jobs, made both of his PAT attempts last season.

Borreson's job, however, was eventually claimed by freshman David Carroll. The Bountiful High product was perfect in five field-goal attempts and 44 extra-point kicks before leaving on an LDS Church mission shortly after the Fiesta Bowl.

Enter Sakoda, a talented kicker and punter from Branham High School in San Jose, Calif. Utah coaches persuaded him to walk on after noticing him at a competition in Las Vegas.

"It was just real good timing," said Sakoda, who initially hoped to kick for a Pac-10 program but found no vacancies. "So far things are working out."

The 18-year-old is already making a name for himself.

"Louie Sakoda has looked very good kicking so far this camp," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "He has a live leg, a very live leg. He's a good one."

Torn a bit by circumstances involving his fellow kickers, whose friendship he values, Sakoda is making the most of his opportunity.

"I came into a very fortunate spot — not fortunate for Bryan — but definitely a good spot for me to shine coming in as a freshman," said Sakoda.

E-mail: dirk@desnews.com