Zendejas apologizes for gesture toward Oregon coachby Anthony Gimino on Nov. 29, 2010, under Sports
Arizona Wildcats kicker Alex Zendejas was iced — twice — and he didn’t think that was so nice.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly called two timeouts at the end of the first half as Zendejas lined up to kick a 29-yard field goal last Friday night at Autzen Stadium.
It’s certainly not an out-of-line strategy. It’s something coaches do on a weekly basis all across the country, playing a little mind game with the kicker, making him wait, making him think about it.
After the delay, Zendejas booted the ball through the uprights for a 19-14 lead, but then he turned and pointed at Kelly on the Oregon sideline as he was leaving the field — an unusually brash move, especially for a kicker.
“It was kind of disrespectful,” Zendejas said after Sunday night’s practice, talking about his gesture.
“I wouldn’t do it again, to be honest with you. … I don’t think he is going to hear this, but I apologize for doing that, Coach.”
Said ESPN announcer Brad Nessler after the finger-point: “Gutsy kicker … or crazy kicker.” Added ESPN game analyst Todd Blackledge: “Gutsy wouldn’t have been the word I would have chose.”
Zendejas said it was “emotion probably getting the best of me” as his kick capped a thrilling first half. The kicker added that special teams coach Jeff Hammerschmidt “got a little mad at me, but I apologized really quick, though.”
Kelly unsuccessfully went double-ice last year against Zendejas in the same situation. Zendejas kicked a 47-yard field goal to end the first half after Oregon called two timeouts.
Zendejas also made a 41-yard field goal in the third quarter Friday night, and he had a brilliant pooch punt, hitting one 40 yards out of bounds inside the 1-yard line. That’s two games in a row in which he has pooched a kick out of bounds deep in the opponent’s territory.
He’ll continue to handle those duties instead of regular punter Keenyn Crier.
“I actually like it,” Zendejas said of pooch punting.
“I don’t mind punting. I don’t find punting as hard as kicking sometimes. It might be just because I go out there and relax.”
The pressure is on this week, however. It’s Arizona-Arizona State on Thursday night, with the Zendejas’ family history entwined in the rivalry. Alex left his legacy by making a 32-yard field goal as time expired for a 20-17 victory at Sun Devil Stadium last year.
His uncle Max is a UA legend who twice kicked game-winners against the Sun Devils. Two other uncles, Luis and Alan, kicked for Arizona State.
“It’s always fun to play ASU, especially with all the family history behind it and I’ve had all my uncles talk about it already,” Alex said. “That’s pretty cool.”