(Photo: Allyson Cummings/WCSN)
The Sun Devils practiced outside on the Bill Kajikawa Practice Field for the first time this season, and put their two-minute offense and defense on display.
This late game situation that was practiced today was actually meant to put pressure on the defense. In a typical two-minute drill, the offense has the disadvantage with the clock not on their side, but head coach Todd Graham found a way to work the defense.
With only 52 seconds left on the clock, the defense had to prevent the offense from moving the ball starting on the offense’s 35-yard line. The catch was, the defense only held a two-point lead.
The offense did get to the opposing 35, but the back up kicker John O’Brien’s field goal attempt missed.
The drill was meant to push the first team defense, but the offense is what stood out in this drill. Quarterback Mike Bercovici was poised and made all the right decisions, and made an impressive throw to redshirt junior tight end Kody Kohl to set up the field goal attempt.
Zane Gonzalez ready for season to kickoff
Although he did not kick in the only team session the media was permitted to see, there is no doubt that junior kicker Zane Gonzalez will be the man for the Sun Devils come week one.
Coming into his junior year with two full years of experience already under his belt, Gonzalez finds himself being talked about on the national stage. Gonzalez was selected to be on the Lou Groza Award preseason watch list, awarded to college football’s best kicker.
“I was excited, I was happy,” Gonzalez said. “I have been on there before but this year I want to do better, the last couple years I came up short but I’m excited.”
As much as Gonzalez would love to be recognized with the award at the end of the season, but his biggest goal comes with the team.
“That’s my main goal right now,” Gonzalez said about the award. “But for me it’s as a team I just want the team to do best and hopefully just win a National Championship with the team, that’s all that matters.”
Gonzalez has been one of the most reliable kickers in the conference over the course of his first two seasons with the Sun Devils, but the best players always have areas to improve in. Perfection is what Gonzalez strives for, because he knows how vital his job is to the team.
“Just being more beneficial to the team when it comes to making my points and making all the field goals,” Gonzalez said. “When we get in the redzone, (I have to) perform on every kick, don’t have any bad kicks that miss. Last year there was a couple that missed that kind of changed the turning point of the game.”
It’s almost a given that Gonzalez will do his job this season, but there are plenty of signs that point this upcoming season towards a career year for the junior kicker. Especially considering the hiring of new special teams coach, Shawn Slocum.
“Coach Slocum has brought a lot of professionalism to (special teams),” Gonzalez said. “I mean he just came from the Green Bay Packers and he brought a lot of different ideals and concepts that help out to the team. Not just putting the backups on special teams but putting the starters and the best players on the field.”
-Graham didn’t speak after practice
-Wide receiver Tim White in a green jersey again
-Running back De’Chavon Hayes got reps at receiver in two-minute offense