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Opponent Special Teams Preview: Arizona State

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Finally, the guy that’s gonna win that Groza thing

Cal Poly v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona State has a great kicker. No, he is not the 73rd Zendejas to come from an Arizona school, but there is a “Z” in his name. Senior Zane Gonzalez has nailed an amazing 22 of 23 FG attemtps this season including splitting the uprights on three kicks of better than 50 yards.

For more on Gonzalez and the ASU special teams, I reached out to Connor Pelton of the SB Nation community House of Sparky:

If there's something Arizona State does right, it's special teams. Gonzalez - the all-time NCAA leader for made field goals - seems to be the favorite for the Groza as he is tied for first in field goals made and second in field goals attempted. He also has a make from 59 yards (one that would have been good from 65); no other kicker at the FBS level has one from deeper than 55.

Tim White is the team's main kick returner, and he is just as explosive there as he is in the passing game. He hasn't been able to replicate last year's gaudy numbers in the return game, but that has more to do with having poor blockers in front of him and smart opponents who kick away from him than anything else.

Depth Chart:

Gonzalez obviously has a very strong leg, as his 53 touchbacks on 70 kickoffs indicate (76%). The kickoffs that have been returned have gone back an average of over 26 yards, including a 100 yard TD surrendered to WSU’s Robert Taylor.

The punting is also impressive with senior Matt Haack averaging nearly 45 yards per punt this season. Opponents have returned only 16 of ASU’s 59 punts for a meager average of 2.63 yards per return.

Tim White has an impressive 13.67 average on 18 Punt returns including a 70 yard TD against the Cougs.

White is the main kickoff return man as well, along with Kalen Ballage who both have nice averages of 22.35 and 23.18 yards respectively. The lone kickoff return TD for the Sun Devils was by DJ Calhoun.

Ever wonder what a 42 yard kickoff return TD looks like?