Zac Alley/Winston Venable – Boise State University

FootballScoop is proud to announce that Zac Alley and Winston Venable are the 2020 FootballScoop Special Teams Coordinators of the Year presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.

Boise State needed just seven games to inflict a full season’s worth of damage to opponents’ special teams units.

For starters, no team returned more kicks for touchdowns than the Boise.

Over just 17 return opportunities, the Broncos raced three punts back for scores, a mark equaled only by Georgia Southern, who played 13 games. Boise’s 17 returns totaled 311 yards, an 18.3-yard average that rated seventh nationally.

On kickoffs, Boise State converted 21 opportunities into two touchdowns — making them one of just eight teams to take back multiple kicks for scores. The total number of five was the most in the country. (Boise State’s 25.76-yard return average also rated 15th in the country.)

Boise State did not wait until the opponent’s foot hit the ball to inflict damage, either.

The Broncos blocked five punts or field goals in their seven games, a number that tied for second among all teams but led the country in blocks per game.

Boise State’s 0.71 blocks per game average stood as the highest in college football since 2011, and in total meant the Broncos housed or blocked a kick an average of 1.42 times per game.

The Broncos also led the country by forcing three missed extra points. Freshman kicker Jonah Dalmas converted seven of eight field goals (12th nationally) and 30 of 31 extra points. Boise State also ranked among the top 30 nationally in opponent kickoff returns (18.29 yards per, no touchdowns).

The exploits of Boise State’s special teams helped the program reach the Mountain West Championship for the second year in a row and the third time in four seasons. Avery Williams became the fourth player in MW history to win the league’s Special Teams Player of the Year honor in consecutive years after ranking ninth in punt and kickoff return average and placing fifth in FBS with 575 total return yards. He was named the All-Mountain West First Team punt and kickoff returner, and Dalmas earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West honors.

Alley is a Clemson product who spent four years as a GA at his alma mater. Having helped the Tigers to two national titles, Alley took his first full-time job as Charlotte’s nickel backs coach in 2019. He spent one season as Boise State’s outside linebackers coach and co-special teams coordinator and was named ULM’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach last month. The 27-year-old is the youngest defensive coordinator in FBS.

Venable played linebacker for Boise State and stands as one of the best players in the program’s recent history. His interception secured an undefeated season and Fiesta Bowl win over TCU to close the 2010 season, and in 2016 he was named to the All-Blue Team, celebrating 30 years of Bronco football on the famous blue turf. After a seven-year professional career, Venable returned to his alma mater in 2018 as player development coordinator and joined the coaching staff in 2020 as running backs coach and co-special teams coordinator. He remains in Boise as a member of Andy Avalos’s coaching staff as running backs coach and player development director.

The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by AstroTurf are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Harrison Green [FIU], Sean Saturino [Army] and Alley and Venable) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year’s winner.

Previous winners of the Special Teams Coordinator of the Year award are James Shibest (Ole Miss, 2008 and Virginia Tech, 2017), Mike Tolleson (Texas, 2009), Joe Robinson (LSU, 2010), John Baxter (USC, 2011), D.J. Durkin (Florida, 2012), Jeff Ulbrich (UCLA, 2013), Robby Discher (Oklahoma State, 2014), Sean Snyder (Kansas State, 2015), Andre Powell (Pittsburgh, 2016), Jeff Banks (Alabama, 2018), and Blake Gideon (Houston, 2019).

keystats

1st Nationally – Punt Return TDs           1st Nationally – Blocked Kicks Per Game
1st Nationally – Kick Return TDs           5th Nationally – Opponent Punting

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National columnist - Zach joined the staff in 2012...and has been attempting to improve Doug and Scott's writing ability ever since (to little avail). Outside of football season, you can find him watching the San Antonio Spurs reading Game of Thrones fan theories.