Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Preseason position reviews: kicker
By Ted Miller
Kicker is typically a strong position in the Pac-12. That is not the case -- at least based on preseason appearances -- this fall.
Just five teams welcome back experienced kickers. The pickings is so slim in terms of quality that Phil Steele named Arizona's Alex Zendejas third-team All-Pac-10 in his preview magazine.
So how does this thin group stack up? Read on.
Washington: Erik Folk was perfect on 33 PATs last year while also connecting on 13 of 20 field goals with a long of 54 yards. Most years, these numbers would rate as "good" rather than "great," but having the best returning kicker in the conference, even if his numbers aren't scintillating, is a significant boost.
Oregon: Rob Beard made 10 of 13 field goals last year -- coach Chip Kelly doesn't like field goals -- and was 63 of 64 on PATs.
Arizona: Zendejas had some, er, notable issues -- we won't even bring up the PATs in the Arizona State game -- but he did make 14 of 19 field goals with a long of 47. His 73.7 percent field goal percentage ranked third in the Pac-10 in 2010, ahead, by the way, of UCLA's Kai Forbath.
Washington State: Washington State only attempted 11 field goals last year. It made seven of those, three from Andrew Furney, who tops the post-spring depth chart. He also was 18-of-18 on PATs.
California: Giorgio Tavecchio is probably not going to be a great kicker, but he's experienced. He made 11 of 16 kicks last year with a long of 53. He missed two of his 39 PATs.
Stanford: Jordan Williamson and Eric Whitaker battled this spring to replace Whitaker's older brother, Nate, who was first-team All-Pac-10 in 2010. Williamson seemed to have a slight lead heading into the offseason, though Whitaker has more experience.
USC: True freshman Andre Heidari was the nation's top-rated prep kicker last year. It's unlikely he will do worse than last year's kicker, Joe Houston, who ranked last in the conference in field goal percentage, though he was perfect on 43 PATs.
UCLA: The post-spring depth chart included an "or" between junior Jeff Locke -- the Bruins' punter -- and redshirt freshman Kip Smith.
Oregon State: Trevor Romaine was ahead of Max Johnson after spring practices to replace Justin Kahut. Both missed two attempts in the spring game. Romaine showed a good foot on kickoffs.
Utah: Coleman Petersen beat out Nick Marsh, the Utes' kickoff specialist last year, this spring to replace Joe Phillips. He's never kicked in a game.
Arizona State: Thomas Weber is gone. His replacement looks like redshirt freshman Alex Garoutte, who wasn't consistent this spring.
Colorado: Justin Castor topped the depth chart this spring -- he wasn't terribly consistent -- but incoming freshman Will Oliver might give him some competition.