LARAMIE -- As far as NCAA statistics are concerned, Austin McCoy is not the nation’s top punter.
Combine the number of times he’s been used with the numbers he’s put up, however, and it’s hard to find a better one across the board.
With their rigorous early-season schedule, the Wyoming Cowboys have called on their punter early and often and he’s answered that bell.
With one last ranked foe on the docket, McCoy will likely have his work cut out for him again against No. 11 Utah on Saturday.
“It’s just good to help,” McCoy said. “I’m always just out there trying to help everyone else out, helping our defense and helping our offense. Anytime you can get the ball in better field position … it’s helpful.”
McCoy has arguably helped out his team more than any other punter in the country through the first half of the season.
His average of 45.11 yards per punt lands him 15th in the nation in the punting category, but he’s been called on more times than any other punter ranked in the top 30, booting the ball 6.33 times per game.
Only one other punter in the top 15 has punted more than 27 times this season -- McCoy has 38 to his credit -- and the 14 punters ahead of him are averaging fewer than 4.5 punts per game.
“Still had a good week, still stayed consistent and that’s the key,” said McCoy, who punted eight times with an average of 46.4 yards per try at No. 5 TCU last Saturday. “I’m just trying to get better every week.”
That average was actually better than the previous week when he punted eight times with a lower average but won the Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Week award.
But part of that difference comes in the fact that a couple of punts at Toledo came with the Cowboys looking to pin the Rockets deep.
Against the Horned Frogs, McCoy had plenty of room on just about every one of his punts, which made for a day chock full of the rugby-style kick that he’s often asked to use.
“I pretty much practice both equally,” McCoy said. "We’ve been getting bounces here and there. Sometimes you don’t and sometimes you do.”
That’s the attitude that has had to come with that type of kick.
The rugby style has led to kicks of fewer than 40 yards at times this year, but also helped him kick a 72-yarder early in the season.
“It’s a football and you can never tell which way it’s going to bounce,” McCoy said.
It will be interesting to see what type of bounces the Cowboys try to allow Saturday against Shaky Smithson, one of the nation’s top punt returners.
They didn’t seem shy about kicking to TCU’s Jeremy Kerley, the No. 2 return man in the MWC, last week, but he burned them for 48 yards on three returns.
Whatever UW coach Dave Christensen asks McCoy to do today, the junior will be up for the challenge.
After all, he’s been successful at rising up to more of them than any other punter in the country.
Contact sports reporter Eric Schmoldt at email@example.com. Check out his blog at tribtown.trib.com/ESchmoldt/blog