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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Kickin’ it like Folk

UA kicker Jason Bondzio lines up for an attempt during the Wildcats 48-20 win over Washington State on Sept. 29 at Arizona
UA kicker Jason Bondzio lines up for an attempt during the Wildcats’ 48-20 win over Washington State on Sept. 29 at Arizona

In the wake of former Arizona kicker Nick Folk’s game-winning 53-yard field goal that lifted the Dallas Cowboys over the Buffalo Bills Monday night, Wildcats current kicker Jason Bondzio continues to quietly progress.

Though Folk may have been one of Arizona’s most reliable kickers – making 15 of 20 field goals last year, including a game-winning try against Brigham Young in the opener – Bondzio has shown throughout the year he can match Folk’s reliability.

Thus far this season, Bondzio has made 10 of 13 attempts – including a 3-for-3 performance in Saturday’s 31-16 loss at Oregon State – rebounding significantly after missing his first career attempt from 37 yards out.

“”He is a good kid and a hard worker and I helped him out pretty good with technique stuff, and he is taking the advice pretty well,”” Folk said. “”He is doing awesome with his field goals and on kickoffs, so sometimes all it takes is a little advice to help someone out.””

Bondzio kicked behind Folk for the two years prior to getting the starting nod in his junior season, and has worked diligently to try and duplicate the same level of accuracy and success.

Folk would set the example for everything from onside kicks to field goals in practice and games, while Bondzio would watch and absorb the technicalities.

“”Once I got closer to him, being around him all this time, I knew what was going to happen (Monday night),”” Bondzio said. “”I knew what he was going to do on the onside kick and I knew he was going to make the field goal.””

Still, even with all of Folk’s success at the next level, Bondzio continues to focus on his game while striving to fill the void Folk left in Tucson.

And special teams coach Joe Robinson said Bondzio isn’t far off.

“”He is a very dependable person in everything he does,”” he said. “”I’ve been watching him practice and looking at his work habits a long time, and he is a great student of the game and it shouldn’t be a surprise that he is having a good year.””

Bondzio is currently tied for 11th in Division I-A with several other kickers for field goals per game at 1.67.

With the NCAA changing their kickoff rule prior to this season, moving the kickoff point five yards back from the 35-yard line to the 30-yard line, the goal was to induce more returns.

But Bondzio has shown enough power where the rule has proven to be insignificant, as he is tied for third in Division I-A in touchbacks with 13.

“”With what Jason brings to the table for this football team, I feel like he has done very well,”” Robinson said. “”Being one of the leaders in the nation in terms of touchbacks is vital for us, especially with the new rule, it is just so valuable to us.””

And UA head coach Mike Stoops said he feels comfortable sending Bondzio on the field in any situation.

“”(Bondzio) has done a great job and he has really improved his accuracy and strength,”” Stoops said. “”He is really confident and continues to improve. He has become a very good kicker.””

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