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bsn BSN: Colorado looking for an improved Diego Gonzalez

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Jun 13, 2016.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    BSNBuffs.com would like to welcome Jacob Mauff to the team. Mauff is currently a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder and will be a part-time intern and contributor to the site. Below, you will find his first submission to BSNBuffs.

    BOULDER – Despite a season-opening loss at Hawai’i that came in rather unspectacular fashion, the start of the 2015 football season didn’t come without highlights for the Colorado Buffaloes. Their 3-1 start meant that the team had surpassed their win total from the year before.

    One of those wins came directly from kicker Diego Gonzalez. Facing Colorado State in an epic edition of the Mile High Showdown, the game went into overtime after a potentially game-winning kick was blocked at the end of regulation. When his name was called again, Gonzalez nailed the actual game-winner.

    Then, things came crashing down just as fast as they had risen. Colorado finished the season 1-8 from there, floundering against the Pac-12. Gonzalez struggled right alongside his team, and mostly from the right hash. He finished the season converting on 18-of-29 field goals. That’s good for a 62.1-percent success rate.

    Struggling, however, is not an entirely new trend for Colorado’s kicker.

    Kicking for CU appeared to be at an all-time low in 2002 when Pat Brougham missed more than half of his three-point attempts. Out of 25 tries, Brougham only made 44-percent of them. That’s 11 made field goals and 14 misses.

    Then, the clouds parted and out stepped Mason Crosby. For four years, kicking wasn’t an issue for the Buffs. If anything, Crosby’s time at CU was a poor indicator for how he would fair in the NFL. For the Green Bay Packers, Crosby is a career 79.7-percent kicker, including his last three seasons all being over 80 percent. While still playing college ball, he made 75-percent of his kicks for Colorado.

    Once Crosby left, there were clearly big shoes to fill. In 2007, Kevin Eberhart took over the kicking job for one season and made 65.2 percent of them, a capable though perhaps not an inspiring replacement.

    After that, though, things went downhill quickly.

    In 2008, two kickers took on field goal duties. Jameson Davis only attempted three, making just one. That’s not necessarily a great sample size, but it’s telling that the team only used him three times when his competition, Aric Goodman, only made five of his 14 attempts. That’s barely making a third of the team’s tries.

    Goodman turned out to be the replacement the team went with and took over for two more seasons, improving each season. He did, however, only make 53.2-percent of his kicks throughout his three-year career.

    Colorado’s future improved in the years to come. Once Goodman left, there was another opening at the kicking position. Will Oliver took the job and didn’t let go for four years. He was certainly the best kicker since Crosby left.

    Oliver converted on 50 of his 69 field goal attempts. Slightly lower than Crosby’s success rate, Oliver’s registered at 72.5-percent. Once he was done at CU, Gonzalez took over. Last season was his first year as the primary kicker, bringing this kicking history to the present.

    Since 2002, Buffs kickers are a combined 65.5-percent on field goal attempts. Clearly, Crosby is well above that average. If you take Crosby out of the equation, the team is only making 120 of their 196 total field goals, a 61.2-conversion rate.

    Even though it doesn’t pop off the page, Gonzalez already topped this achievement. It wasn’t a great season either, but it was his first year at the college level of play, leaving fans hopeful for improvement.

    To be the best kicker since Crosby left, Gonzalez would have to beat Oliver’s last season in college. Oliver went 16-of-21, which is good for 76.2-percent. That’s 14.1-percent better than Gonzalez’s clear rate last year.

    If Gonzalez attempts the same amount of field goals next year, he’d have to make 23 of his attempts to beat that mark, five more field goals than he made last season. Perhaps most crucial to his success will be improving on field goals ranging from 30 to 39 yards. At this distance, Gonzalez made just three of his seven attempts. Why is this distance particularly important? For a team that struggled to find consistency in the red zone, Gonzalez’s improvement could help cap off drives that finished just short of a touchdown, for one reason or another. Empty drives, even just a few of them, are a key marker of a team struggling to win games over the course of a season.

    Once they entered the red zone, Colorado scored points on 73.6-percent of drives last season. When opponents entered the red zone against Colorado, they scored on 88.6-percent of their drives.

    Seeing how Gonzalez improves will be something every fan is going to watch this upcoming season. In a season with the program trending upward, not being able to score points at any opportunity is going to hurt the team during crunch time and crunch time is where Colorado is hoping to see the most improvement.

    William Whelan
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