Preseason position reviews: kicker

Kickers are important. Just ask Arizona State, Stanford and Oregon.

It's also hard to measure kickers. They can be good one year but fall off the next. They can put up good numbers but miss when the pressure is on. And new kickers are impossible to gauge, even if they arrive with an impressive recruiting ranking.

So how do things stack up heading into 2012? Let's take a look.

Great shape

USC: Andre Heidari was first-team All-Pac-12 in 2011. He connected on 15-of-17 field goals and didn't miss any of his 50 PATs. So, yeah, this is another strong position for the Trojans.

Washington State: Andrew Furney made 14-of-16 field goals in 2011 with a long of 51 yards. He was 5-for-5 from 40-plus yards, but he did miss two PATs.

Utah: Coleman Petersen earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. He finished second in the Pac-12 in field goals made (18), field goals made per game (1.38) and field goal percentage (72%, 18-of-25).

Stanford: Jordan Williamson earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors after connecting on 13-of-19 field goals with a long of 45. He doesn't have very good range -- just 2-for-6 from 40-49 yards -- and, of course, there is the Fiesta Bowl. There is some "we'll see" here.

Good shape

Arizona: John Bonano took over the job in game four and made 8-of-12 field goals with a long of 47 yards. He also led the Pac-12 with an average kickoff to the 3-yard line and 24-for-24 on PATs.

Oregon: Rob Beard or Alejandro Maldonado? Beard was a solid kicker in 2010 -- 10-of-13 -- but he got hurt last year and Maldonado took over, connecting on just 7-of-12 field goals, with one very memorable miss.

Colorado: Will Oliver was solid in 2011, hitting 11-of-16 field goals, with a long of 51. Almost better at longer kicks -- he was 5-of-6 from outside of 40 yards. Justin Castor handled kickoffs, a capacity in which he struggled -- see four out of 37 kickoffs going out of bounds.

Oregon State: Trevor Romaine connected on 15-of-22 field goals with a long of 46. He's solid. Middling on kickoffs, though.

Arizona State: Alex Garoutte connected on 15-of-22 field goal attempts and hit his last four of the season. But he also had some memorable misses, including three in the season-changing loss to UCLA. And he struggled on kickoffs.

We'll see

California: Vincenzo D'Amato has some experience, though he was beaten out by Giorgio Tavecchio the past two seasons. In his career, he is 7-of-12 (58.3%) on field goals and has made all 31 of his PATs.

Washington: The Huskies lose a good kicker in Erik Folk. JC transfer Travis Coons is likely to take over. It's possible that incoming freshman punter Korey Durkee will be in the mix if Coons struggles.

UCLA: Kip Smith transferred. Sophomore Joe Roberts was listed No. 1 on the post-spring depth chart, but he's seen no game action and isn't presently listed on the roster. UCLA signed a kicker: Ka'imi Fairbairn. In the Bruins' favor is punter Jeff Locke, who is probably the best in the conference when it comes to kickoffs. Over 34 percent of his boots led to touchbacks in 2011, the best percentage in the conference.