Like Jake Oldroyd, punter Ryan Rehkow still trying to find his groove in 2022
Third-year sophomore was among the nation’s best punters in 2020 and 2021, but has struggled a bit this month for Cougars
Kicker Jake Oldroyd isn’t the only BYU Cougar trying to find his groove with his legs and feet.
Fellow specialist Ryan Rehkow, BYU’s punter, has struggled as well in 2022, the third-year sophomore freely admits.
“I’m not content with how the season has gone so far,” Rehkow said after practice Wednesday as No. 19 BYU continued preparations for Saturday’s showdown with 3-1 Wyoming at LaVell Edwards Stadium. “I think it has been kind of a feeling-out process, the first couple of games.”
“Not good enough for him. He’s got a small sample size because we haven’t punted a lot in games. … But both punts (against Oregon) were substandard. I think his drop right now is a little bit aggressive. He just needs to get back to being efficient.” — BYU special teams coach Ed Lamb
Rehkow (pronounced: Ree-koh, “as in Uncle Rico,” according to his profile at BYUCougars.com) hasn’t missed three consecutive chip-shot field goals, as Oldroyd has. But he has yet to rip off the booming punts he became famous for a year ago when he was the Pro Football Network Independent Punter of the Year.
“I am figuring a lot of things out and it is honestly just a confidence and mental thing, as far as specialists go,” Rehkow said.
The native of Veradale, Washington, has punted eight times for 319 yards, a 39.9 average. His net punt average is 36.6. That’s not great, although it should be mentioned that there’s more to punting than just booting it as far as possible. Getting punts to drop inside the 20 is a valuable skill as well, and one that Rehkow has displayed in the past.
Last year, Rehkow averaged 48.6 yards per punt. In 2020, his average was 45.14 on 28 attempts.
“Not good enough for him,” BYU special teams coordinator Ed Lamb said on his “Coordinators’ Corner” program Monday. “He’s got a small sample size because we haven’t punted a lot in games. … But both punts (against Oregon) were substandard. I think his drop right now is a little bit aggressive. He just needs to get back to being efficient.”
Lamb said Rehkow has punted well in practice, but his performance in games is “pretty average right now.”
Some fans have speculated that when Rehkow absorbed a roughing-the-punter penalty against South Florida that he sustained an injury that has cut into his power. But he said that’s not the case.
“Got a cleat to the knee, but that was about it,” he said. “… I was dealing with a little bit of stuff before that. It is never fun when you take a shot like that, because you are defenseless. But it is a part of the game so you just get right back up on the horse and keep going.”
Eight punts in three games isn’t a big sample size. By comparison, BYU’s opponents have punted 12 times. Eight times coach Kalani Sitake has chosen to go for it on fourth down, rather than punt or attempt a field goal. The Cougars are 3 of 8 on fourth down.
Rehkow said he will be better moving forward.
“This is the healthiest I have felt up to this point in the season,” Rehkow said. “I am just getting things dialed in. I know my family, my wife (Hadlee, whom he married a few months ago) and everybody else have been helping me diagnose some of the things that have been going on, whether it is technique or body or whatever.”
Asked about Lamb’s diagnosis that his drop has been too aggressive, Rehkow agreed and said part of the issue is mental.
“I have just been thinking too much, rather than what I do best, and that is kicking a ball far down the field and flipping the field for our team,” he said.
Cougars on the air
Wyoming (3-1) at No. 19 BYU (2-1)
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. MDT
LaVell Edwards Stadium
Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM