ASU Football's 13 Most Important Players in 2013: #9 - K Zane GonzalezPosted: Updated:
Arizona State's kicker just missed a 24 yard field goal. College kickers... nobody in America is worse at their jobs.— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) September 18, 2010
Here's the snap...the hold..the kick is up...
For Arizona State fans, that sentence usually hasn't ended too well. At best, it's been about a coin flip proposition over the last five years. Since Thomas Weber's near-perfect Lou Groza Award-winning season in 2007, the kicking game has been a source of headaches and ulcers for ASU fans.
Just take a look at the gruesome numbers.
A 57.7% success rate on field goals beyond 30 yards? Just 45.2% from outside of 40 yards?
Those are quite simply unacceptable numbers for a program that eyes themselves as being a perennial division contender as the Sun Devils do.
Incumbent starter Alex Garoutte looked to put a shaky 2011 season behind him last year, but was benched on field goal duty in favor of walk-on Jon Mora in October. Mora did hit on nine of his 12 attempts, but none came beyond 40 yards.
Mora and Garoutte continued to battle it out during spring practices this year, but with neither proving themselves ready of taking a hold of the job, head coach Todd Graham made a move.
In late March, with spring practices in full swing, ASU signed kicker Zane Gonzalez out of Deer Park High School in Texas. He was the 11th ranked kicker in the nation, according to KohlsKicking.com.
Gonzalez brings a strong an accurate leg to Tempe. As a senior at Deer Park, he connected on all 10 of his kicks, and sent 44 of his 62 kickoffs for touchbacks. His career-long field goal came from 48 yards.
ESPN.com's scouting service raved about Gonzalez's ability:
"Zane is top 5 field goal kicker in the nation. He has won many field goal competitions and has range out to 55-60 yards off the ground"
While those long range bombs would be nice, the Sun Devils simply need a consistent performer from 40 yards and in.
ASU is entering 2013 as one of the favorites to win the Pac-12 South, and a darkhorse contender for the Rose Bowl. They bring back eight starters to one of the nation's best defenses, and have several dangerous weapons on offense.
They also have a very challenging schedule, especially early. That slate of top competition will almost certainly result in several close games, and chances are that more than a few of these games could come down to a pressure-packed field goal attempt...possibly with a division title on the line.
After years of seeing their hopes go wide left and wide right, Sun Devil Nation will be hoping Gonzalez can split the uprights on the road to Pasadena.