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As an offense, you never want your punter to be one of the stars of the game.

The goal, of course, is to score a touchdown, or at least get into field-goal range, every time you touch the ball. In reality, even the best offenses are going to have drives stall in their own territory, leading to booting the ball away.

“Jack flipped the field two or three times and really showed a lot of poise. He has become a really quality punter. I mean everything about him, his mechanics, his get-off times, he’s just doing everything real well right now.” — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on punter Jack Bouwmeester

When that happens, it helps to have a reliable punter to flip the field.

Jack Bouwmeester, the latest in a line of Australian punters at Utah, stabilized Utah’s punt unit last season. He averaged 39.2 yards per punt and was aided by one of the best punt return defenses in the country, which allowed an average of just one yard per return.

Against Florida, though, he looked like a whole new punter.

The sophomore punter sent the ball away six times in Utah’s home opener against the Gators for a total of 311 yards. Three of those were pinned inside the 20-yard line, with an additional touchback.

He had two punts of 60 or more yards, including a long of 64 (which set his career high), marking the first time a Utah punter has done that in a game since Tom Hackett in 2014.

Bouwmeester was honored with the Pac-12’s Special Teams Player of the Week award after the performance.

How did Bouwmeester make such big strides?

“I think it’s all my coaching,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham joked.

More seriously, Whittingham said that Bouwmeester worked “exceptionally hard” this summer and is feeling more confident.

“You saw the fruits of his labors in that first game and we hope it continues,” Whittingham said.

Bouwmeester worked on a lot of strength training in the offseason, polished his punting technique and did a whole lot of practice reps.

“A bit of confidence is massive. Just more game reps. Another offseason under the belt. Yeah, it was good to get out there and have a bit of freedom and hit a few good balls,” Bouwmeester said.

Utah is well-known in Australian punting circles due to Ray Guy Award winners Tom Hackett and Mitch Wishnowsky, who won the award for Utah three years in a row.

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Originally starting his punting journey at Michigan State, Bouwmeester didn’t see the field, and returned to Australia in 2020.

He still had the desire to punt, though, and when Utah offered him a scholarship in 2022, he accepted and flew 8,452 miles to Salt Lake City.

“The culture here, the opportunity to punt, it was a great program and I just wanted to be involved,” Bouwmeester said.

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No. 12 Utah (1-0)
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He’s enjoyed his time at Utah, and the transition back to America was made easier by befriending fellow Aussie Thomas Yassmin. The Utah tight end and Bouwmeester lived together in 2022.

A multisport athlete in Australia, Bouwmeester was a cricket bowler and played Australian Rules Football. His experience playing latter led him to becoming interested in punting in American football.

“I was playing Aussie rules football, kind of heard about the punting stuff and decided that I’d give it a go. So that’s how it kind of worked out. Just tried to work hard at it and see what would happen and it got me to here. I’m pretty grateful for the opportunity and for the path as well. It’s been a good path,” Bouwmeester said.

There’s a bit of difference when punting in Australian football compared to American football. In Aussie rules, Bouwmeester says, punts are more direct and shorter, vs. higher and longer in American football. He trained with ProKick Australia and the Punt Factory, developing his skillset.

“He has a really good knack and feel for what we call sky territory punts, where he kicks it up and we try to pin them inside the 10,” Whittingham said.

Though Utah’s offense hopes to keep him off the field as much as possible this season, if Bouwmeester continues what he showed in Week 1, having confidence in pinning the opposing team deep in their own territory provides a little bit of solace if a drive stalls.

“Jack flipped the field two or three times and really showed a lot of poise. He has become a really quality punter. I mean everything about him, his mechanics, his get-off times, he’s just doing everything real well right now. We hope that continues throughout the rest of the season,” Whittingham said.

Utah QB Bryson Barnes (16) throws against the Florida Gators in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, during the opener.
Utah Utes quarterback Bryson Barnes throws against the Florida Gators in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 during the season opener. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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Extra Points

  • Utah dominates Florida as college football gets back to the basics
  • (Deseret News)
  • Why national media said the Utes’ victory over Florida was a ‘pretty vintage Utah win’ (Deseret News)
  • Utah athletic director Mark Harlan is now on the College Football Playoff committee (Deseret News)

Up Next

Sept. 8 | 12 p.m. MT | Volleyball vs. Tennessee State | Salt Lake City
Sept. 8 | 7 p.m. MT | Volleyball vs. UC Santa Barbara | Salt Lake City 
Sept. 9 | 10 a.m. MT | Football at Baylor | @ Waco, Texas
Sept. 9 | 4 p.m. MT | Volleyball vs. San Francisco | Salt Lake City
Sept. 9 | 7 p.m. MT | Women’s soccer vs. BYU | Salt Lake City

Utah punter Jack Bouwmeester (34) celebrates the Utes’ win over USC at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. The Utah punter began the 2023 season with a bang in victory over Florida. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News