College kickers, man...
It's been a long time since Sun Devil fans have felt any real confidence when the team lines up for a field goal. A long time.
Just take a look at the numbers.
So what we have here is that over the last half-decade, when Arizona State has tried a field goal beyond 30 yards, it's just barely more reliable than a coin flip: 57.7%.
Simply put, that won't get it done.
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
While Sports Illustrated's Jimmy Traina may be a little hyperbolic in his assessment, he's far from alone in expressing that sentiment. The state of field goal kicking in the college game has received heavy criticism over the last several seasons, as most every team in the nation has felt the sting of a costly missed field goal. Or two (sorry, Boise State).
Last season, Alex Garoutte was unable to rebound from his shaky debut in 2011 and lost his job to walk-on Jon Mora after hitting just six of his 11 kicks. While he did retain the extra point and kickoff duties, that's not what a college program expects from a scholarship player.
After taking over the job in October, Mora hit at a better rate than Garoutte—a solid 75%—but did not hit beyond 39 yards. His three misses were all from a makeable distance: 31, 37 and 40 yards. Needless to say, he did not seize the job and make it his own.
The continued uncertainty at the position has carried over into the spring, where both Garoutte and Mora continued to battle each other and their own consistency. That led to head coach Todd Graham taking action last week.
On Thursday, it was announced that ASU had signed Zane Gonzalez to a national letter of intent as a member of the 2013 class. The product of Deer Park High School in Texas will join the team over the summer, and according to his interview with DevilsDigest.com, get first crack as the starting field goal kicker.
Gonzalez will bring a strong leg to Tempe, and showed some accuracy as a prep star. Last season, he connected on all 10 of his field goals with a long of 44, and had a career-long of 48. He was ranked No. 11 by Kohlskicking.com among the nation's 2013 kicking prospects.
Nice. But can he do it when it counts? Who knows...
The Sun Devils are entering 2013 as one of the favorites to win the Pac-12 South and make a charge at the Rose Bowl. They bring back a loaded defense and possess several promising weapons on offense.
They also have a very challenging schedule, especially early, that will almost certainly result in several close games. Chances are that more than a few of these games could come down to a pressure-packed field goal attempt, with a division title on the line.
Lately, ASU fans have put their hands over their eyes and prayed in those situations. They may yet do so again. Or, one of the three young men vying for the job could prove to be the tonic to remedy the program's five-year old illness.