The kicking game for the University of Arizona over the last few years has been downright scary. After week one of the 2012 season, it looked like it was the same story, different year in the case of John Bonano after missing two chip shots that almost costed the Wildcats a victory against Toledo.
But week two was a completely different story. Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez maintained confidence in his kicker despite the early struggles and it ended up working in the Wildcats favor.
“After last week everybody was kind of down on him,” said Rodriguez. “I knew he could kick a bit better, and he did.”
Bonano had to come out right away in the first quarter and put points up on the board for the Wildcats against Oklahoma State. Nailing a 22 yard field goal from a similar spot he missed the week before and then three minutes later, nailed a 46 yard field goal. It was more then apparent Bonano’s confidence was back.
“I tried not to think about the Toledo game at all,” said Wildcat kicker John Bonano. “Just focus on the next game, focus on the next kick, and just thinking positively overall really helped me get back on track.”
Bonano’s field goals proved critical in the first half as the Wildcats struggled to finish drives in the end zone early. They scored 30 un-answered points at one point in the half. Nine of which came off the foot of Bonano (not including made extra points).
“He’s kicked well in practice; he’s a tough competitive guy,” explained Rodriguez. “Honestly, sure, when he went out to kick the first field goal I was thinking, “I know he’s going to make it”, I hope he’s going to make it. For his sake, I knew once he did, he’d get his confidence back.”
Bonano’s bounce back performance not only aided the Wildcats to victory earning them a spot in the top 25, but he was also named Pac-12 special teams player of the week. It could have been a tough go of it mentally moving forward for Bonano after week one, but he made sure not to allow mind games get the best of him.
“I think for me it is kind of the opposite,” mentioned Bonano. “I try not to think about it too much. A lot of kickers over think it, and as long as I stick to my technique, I’ll make field goals.”
Arizona looks to make it three straight at home to start the Rich Rod era as they face South Carolina State on Saturday at 7:30 pm from Arizona Stadium.