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BCS Special Article Oregon: Alejandro…

In 2011, Alejandro Maldonado was unfortunately placed by his head coach Chip Kelly into having to attempt a career long field goal against USC last season; it would have tied the game in what would be Oregon’s only loss en route to a Rose Bowl berth.  He became much maligned despite Kelly deserving more blame than the Alejandro.  For the second straight season, the Oregon Ducks’ National Title hopes rested squarely on the foot of kicker Alejandro Maldonado as the Ducks engaged Stanford in an absolute dogfight in the Autzen Zoo on November 17th in order to claim a Pac-12 title and remain unbeaten.

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Rarely does a kicker earn praise.  Kickers practice the same trade day and night.  The only change day-to-day in the kicking world is the weather in which one is kicking.  The field goal posts, hash marks, size of the ball, holder, long snapper, and your own ability are constants.  The opposing team may try different formations of rushes in order to block the kick, but the kicker should not have to worry about this; rather, it is the worry of the linemen in front.  Because of the lack of variables in the kicking game, people expect every kick to be made.  Once you prove you can make a 45-yarder, every 45-yard field goal is expected to be made.  A kicker is more likely to be criticized at every point throughout his career.  Fans jeer because of a missed chip shot or boo when consistency is absent.  No kicker in the country is more familiar with how lackluster the job is than Alejandro Maldonado.  He wears an completely lackluster number (41) and plays kicker.  He attempted only 12 field goals last season…making seven which did not include the game tying try against USC which ended Oregon’s undefeated season and lost the Ducks a chance to play in the National Title Game.  The attempt was a   42-yard try…until Oregon committed a false start penalty, making the try 47 yards.  Alejandro’s long prior to the USC game was 40 yards.  He was benched at the start of 2012, but began kicking for the team again against California, the third last game of the season.  He went 1-1 in the game, making a 26 yard attempt.  Next came the most anticipated game of the season for Oregon.  Stanford, one loss in the Pac-12, was coming to Eugene to take on Oregon.  The game turned into exactly what Oregon did not want it to.  A dogfight which produced only 28 total points in regulation.  Alejandro missed a 42 yard attempt in the third quarter which would have put Oregon ahead by 10 points.  His nightmare had only just begun, unfortunately for Maldonado.  For the second straight season, Alejandro would have Oregon’s entire season resting on a career long attempt.  In Overtime, Oregon received the ball first and eventually came to a 4th and 9 from the 24-yard line (gaining only 1 yard).  If Maldonado made the kick, he’d be meeting expectations and no one would celebrate the kick or praise Maldonado for having huge nuts.  All the powers seemed to be working against Alejandro.  He sent the ball into the Oregon night and waited while the ball soared toward the goal post…literally it sailed right at the left upright.  It clonked off the post and fall harmlessly into the endzone.  Stanford players jogged merrily off the field, knowing the game was all but theirs.  Oregon had missed their chance for a National Title berth for the second straight year due to a missed field goal.  Alejandro is once again the most wanted man in Eugene and should be put into witness protection ASAP.  God bless him…let him live.

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