ASU changes kickers from Garoutte to Mora

TEMPE, Ariz. — Another week, another kicking change for Arizona State.

Special teams coordinator Joe Lorig confirmed Wednesday that junior walk-on Jon Mora would get the call on field goals this Saturday against UCLA.

Mora took over on field goals after sophomore Alex Garoutte missed three against Cal on Sept. 29. Mora made his only field-goal attempt against Colorado, but Garoutte reclaimed duties for last week’s game against Oregon and missed his only attempt, from 43 yards.

The kicking carousel has yet to cost the Sun Devils a game, but the lack of a consistent, trusted field goal kicker has been an ongoing disruption.

“I don’t think it’s good,” Lorig said. “Any time you have a clear-cut guy, that’s the best situation, but up to this point no one’s really stepped up to be that clear-cut guy, so we’ve just had to make a decision based on practice. It’s going to be Jon Mora the rest of the time.”

For the rest of the season?

“Until there’s a change. As of right now, Jon Mora is the kicker.”

So it seems the kicking game is settled for this week but could change again should Mora struggle. Garoutte will likely still handle kickoffs and could he called on for point-after attempts.

Mora is 1 for 2 on field goal this season and Garoutte is 6 for 11, giving ASU a 53.8 field-goal percentage. That’s a number that could give any coach nightmares, and it has caused ASU to change its strategy on some fourth-down situations.

“We’ve gone for it in some situations where we probably would have taken some points,” Lorig said. “There’s been numerous situations where we maybe have punted in situations where we could’ve tried for a long field goal, and a few times we’ve gone for it on fourth down. It’s definitely had an impact.”

Lorig said he had no explanation for Garoutte’s struggles, which began last year and were magnified with three misses in a one-point loss at UCLA. He said he doesn’t believe there’s an issue of the kicker, snapper and holder being out of sync.

The Sun Devils thus far have been fortunate enough to avoid any do-or-die scenarios where a field goal determines a game’s outcome, though an earlier botched point-after attempt prevented ASU from attempting a field goal against Missouri that would have forced overtime.

Lorig and coach Todd Graham are rolling the dice with Mora in hopes he’ll stake a claim on the job with consistency and reliability as ASU enters the most meaningful part of its schedule.

“It’s kind of hard to keep a guy out there that’s missing, and then you put another guy in and he doesn’t make it, so you have to make that decision,” Lorig said. “I don’t know if it’s been a distraction for anybody, but it’s definitely kept me up a lot of nights, and I’m sure Coach Graham as well.”

MORA PRAISES KELLY

Asked about his impression of ASU sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly on Tuesday, UCLA coach Jim Mora, no relation to Jon, recalled a player from his NFL days.

“He reminds me of Jeff Garcia,” Mora said. “He’s gritty tough (and) he’s an accurate thrower outside of the pocket. You’ve got to really do a good job containing this kid.”

Mora and Garcia crossed paths with the San Francisco 49ers, where Garcia played from 1999-2003 while Mora was an assistant coach. Mora noted Kelly’s mobility as the primary reason for comparison to Garcia, a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

“He throws very well on the move,” Mora said. “That’s why I kind of compare him to Jeff. Jeff was a guy that threw well on the move and had kind of the same stature. (Kelly) looks very comfortable on the move.”

Accordingly, Mora said there has to be a focus this weekend on keeping Kelly in the pocket, not allowing him to make big plays on the move.

EARLY RISING

Saturday’s contest will be the first afternoon game of the season at Sun Devil Stadium, with a 12:05 kickoff. ASU also kicked off early in the day against Cal on the road, but the early game at home will be a change that Graham welcomes.

“I like it,” Graham said. “I don’t like sitting around all day on Saturday. I do like the night atmosphere, so there’s good and bad to it. We take what they give us, and we like whatever they pick. We’ll play at any time of the day. We’ll play at 8 O’clock in the morning and it’d be fine with me.”

Players and coaches previously noted the earlier start time might actually work in their favor since the team normally practices in the morning, finishing up before noon.

NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS

— Defensive tackle Will Sutton (bone bruise) dressed for practice again Wednesday but still did not participate. He has been conditioning on the sidelines but not running. Senior right guard Andrew Sampson (right ankle) was out of a walking boot but also was held out of walkthroughs while conditioning on the sidelines. The status of both for Saturday’s game remains undetermined.

— Sutton was added the Maxwell Award watch list Wednesday. The award is given annually to “the outstanding collegiate football player in America.” Semifinalists for the award will be announced Oct. 29th, and three finalists revealed Nov. 19th. The winner will be announced Dec. 6.