MISSOULA — Special teams have been an important unit for the Montana Grizzlies this season and a big part of that is punter, Brian Buschini.
Buschini has been flipping the field all season for the Grizzlies and is currently the top punter in the FCS, and unfortunately for opposing teams, he's only just a freshman. Buschini is averaging 46.61 yards per punt this season, which is best in the FCS and has him on pace to set a school record. Mike Rice currently holds the school record with an average of 44.69 yards per punt back in 1985.
But for Buschini, a Helena native and Capital High grad, that number doesn't mean as much as other metrics.
"The one that I care about is the net punting and the 11 guys out there that are all doing their 1/11th to make our punt unit the best in the country so anytime I can go out there and have good hang time, force fair catches, pin the team inside the 20, have good direction on my punts, that's what makes a good punter," Buschini said. "A punter that is consistent and just does what helps the team the most, not what helps himself."
It was this summer alongside his coaches in Denver as well as at a camp in Alabama where Buschini said he felt his training and improvement begin to grow heading into fall camp, and he has since ran with it. He worked in Birmingham, Alabama with a company called One on One Kicking, where he worked alongside Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker to improve his craft.
With it, he's helped set up opposing offenses deep in their own territory all season, and UM's stout defense has used that field position to their advantage multiple times.
On the season, he has put 26 punts inside the 20 yard line with 27 punts this season going over 50 yards. Returners have fair caught his punts 22 times this year as well. His average punt also ranks top 10 regardless of FCS or FBS.
"The biggest thing in my game to improve field position is trying to get hang time so the returner will fair catch it because all that matters is net punt," Buschini said. "I think that kind of shows off with the small difference between my gross and net is I've had a lot of fair catches and obviously our guys are very good at getting down there and tackling them."
Buschini, who also handles kickoffs for the Griz, was named first-team all-Big Sky Conference and was also recently named a semifinalist for the FCS punter of the year, making this a freshman season to remember at Montana
"I just think it goes to show how much emphasis they put on special teams here and coach (Bobby) Hauck, he's going to put the best guys out there that'll do that job right and that makes my stats probably look a little better because we've got guys out there that know what they're doing and they play they job right and I couldn't ask for anything better," Buschini said.