Fresno State Football

Fresno State football has one of its biggest defensive weapons back, and rest of nation knows it

Fresno State punter Blake Cusick, a senior from Monrovia, was a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award in 2018 and is back on the watch list this season for the national honor.
Fresno State punter Blake Cusick, a senior from Monrovia, was a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award in 2018 and is back on the watch list this season for the national honor. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

Fresno State punter Blake Cusick, a primary weapon for the Bulldogs defense and one of 10 semifinalists last season for the Ray Guy Award, is again on the watch list as the top punter in college football.

Cusick, fronting a defense that last season led the Mountain West Conference and was third in the nation in scoring defense, averaged 42.2 yards on 65 punts.

More importantly, 31 of those punts landed inside an opponent’s 20-yard line and 11 were downed inside an opponent’s 10-yard line, leaving long fields for offenses to try to churn out yards and points against the Bulldogs defense.

The 20 punts inside the 20 were tied for third in the nation and Cusick’s percentage of punts inside the 20 (47.7) was much higher than the three punters ahead or tied with him – Cal’s Steven Coutts (37 of 72, 51.4), Northern Illinois’ Matt Ference (32 of 86, 37.2) and Rice’s Jack Fox (31 of 80, 38.8).

Cusick, a second-team All-Mountain West selection, also had only 12 punts returned for a total of 42 yards.

Walker makes third watch list

The senior punter from Monrovia is one of six Bulldogs on a watch list for a major award, a group led by middle linebacker Mykal Walker, who is on watch lists for the Bednarik and Butkus awards and on Tuesday landed a spot on the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

Safety Juju Hughes is on watch lists for the Bednarik and Jim Thorpe awards, tight end Jared Rice is on watch lists for the Biletnikoff and Mackey awards, cornerback Jaron Bryant is on the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award and running back Ronnie Rivers is on the watch list for the Doak Walker Award.

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