Alex Garoutte and Jon Mora: Just for Kicks

Alex Garoutte made just six of his 11 attempts last season. - Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

The Sun Devils' special teams struggles have been well documented, but Alex Garoutte and Jon Mora are out to change that this season.

The Arizona State football team hopes to be kicking down the doors to the Rose Bowl next season, but before it can do that, the Sun Devils must find the right man to kick down those doors.

Throughout the spring, depth has been on display as both the offense and defense feature a handful of clutch playmakers.

However, a glaring weakness remains in the kicking game. The Sun Devils' kicking struggles have been well documented over the past few years, and plenty of questions remain this season.

Coach Todd Graham has flip-flopped between using Alex Garoutte and Jon Mora to kick the end-of-practice field goals this spring, and neither player dominated the competition.

"We were going at it," Mora said. "I like to say that I had a better spring than I probably had but there's always room for improvement and I'm going to hit it hard this summer."

Despite their inconsistencies, Mora is listed as the Sun Devils' primary field goal kicker while Garoutte earned kickoff and extra point duties on the most recent depth chart.

With tentative roles in place, both Garoutte and Mora have nailed down goals for the upcoming season.

"Extra points are supposed to be expected honestly, so I want to make them all," Garoutte said.

"My goal this season is obviously to get the job, and once I do that, be 100 percent from 45 in," Mora said. "I have to be able to put points on the board and every point is important this season."

Given the Sun Devils' recent special teams history, both kickers' objectives may seem lofty. However, they have dedicated countless hours to honing the most minute details of their craft.

During practices, the specialists are separated from the rest of the team and work inside of the Verde Dickey Dome on perfecting the snap to hold to kick transition.

"Kicking is not like every position," Garoutte said. "It's a lot more technical, it's not about how much you sweat, it's about how meticulous you are with every part of the movement."

Under Todd Graham, the special teams units are held up to the same demands that the rest of the team faces. Though working on snaps and kicks can sometimes become tedious, Mora believes it's in the best interest of the team.

"He just expects us to work with the snapper and holders a lot because that's key for the field goals on my part," Mora said. "What we do in the dome is to work on at least 100 snaps and holds and to warm up and try to hit a game-winner."

The game-winner Mora references are typically simulated at the end of practice, and both kickers have been given opportunities to drill these kicks this spring.

Though most of the kicks Graham asks his kickers to make at practice come from a reasonable distance, it's presumable that range will play a factor in who ultimately wins the job come fall.

If that's the case, both kickers expressed confidence in their abilities to hit from at least 50 yards.

"I feel comfortable from 50 and in and if you want to try 55, I can hit it, but no one's a guarantee for a 55 yard field goal," Garoutte said.

"My range is probably about 50 and in but I've hit field goals longer than 50 before," Mora said. "I just have to work on the mental game of it and just be able to go out there and kick it like it's practice."

If either Garoutte or Mora can find their groove, that will certainly help their chances of winning the field goal job this fall when the competition heats up.

A few weeks ago, Graham made a late addition to his 2013 recruiting class when he announced the signing of kicker Zane Gonzalez. The Texas product was ranked as the No. 11 kicker in the country by Kohlskicking.com and figures to challenge for the job right away this fall.

Right now, Mora and Garoutte welcome the addition to their close-knit group of specialists because they know an intense competition will ultimately benefit the team.

"They just told us they're bringing another kicker and that's good to keep the competition going," Mora said.

With high hopes abounding for the upcoming season, competition might be exactly what this team needs.

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