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Storm

Kicker on hot seat for rash of misses

By FRANK PASTOR

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 19, 2003


Pete Elezovic is in his fourth season of Arena football, so he's familiar with the league's narrow goal posts. He has made important kicks in the past.

But three games into his first full season with the Storm, Elezovic is in a dreadful slump that could cost him his job.

The former Michigan kicker, signed before the 2002 playoffs after Mike Black injured a knee, has missed 3 of 4 field goals and, more troubling, 7 of 18 extra points.

Elezovic bottomed out in Monday's 61-55 loss at Las Vegas, missing 3 of 4 PATs and both field goals. He was so ineffective that coach Tim Marcum went for two after three second-half touchdowns rather than try the extra point.

Hours after the loss, which dropped the Storm to 1-2 and third in the Southern Division, fans flocked to message boards to call for a change.

"What the heck is wrong with Elezovic?" one cried. "We have to be upgraded at kicker," another wrote.

Marcum hasn't had much patience with kickers either, once releasing Jay Feely immediately after a 2000 game in which the current Atlanta Falcons kicker missed 5 of 6 field goals and an extra point in a 31-30 loss to the Florida Bobcats.

Elezovic's struggles began when he missed 3 of 7 PATs and a 52-yard field goal in a season-opening win over Carolina.

Marcum noticed that the kicker was closing down his plant foot and not opening enough toward the target, and Elezovic bounced back to make 6 of 7 extra points and a 43-yard field goal in a Week 2 loss at Orlando.

But eight days after he appeared to put his problems behind him, Elezovic again was erratic, missing three PATs and field goals of 20 and 54 yards.

Elezovic has been dependable in the past.

He made 92 of 96 extra points and 15 of 26 field goals at Michigan. His 39-yard field goal with 16 seconds remaining clinched a Big Ten title in 1992.

He also was effective in two playoff games last season, making 3 of 5 field goals and 13 of 14 PATs.

GOING NOWHERE: Of equal concern was the disappearance of the Storm offense late in Monday's game. After scoring on seven of its first nine possessions, Tampa Bay was stopped on its final four, including overtime.

Las Vegas' Jeriod Johnson intercepted John Kaleo twice, returning a pass bobbled by Freddie Solomon 32 yards for a touchdown, then taking a tipped pass to the Tampa Bay 7 to set up Mike Horacek's tying 6-yard reception with 1:00 left.

The Storm had a chance to win on the final play of regulation, but Elezovic was short on a 54-yard field goal. Tampa Bay's only overtime possession ended when Kaleo overthrew Lawrence Samuels on fourth down.

NOT SO SPECIAL: Special teams also played a role.

Las Vegas' Sedrick Robinson returned a kickoff 55 yards for a score, and Jeremy Wilkinson recovered an onside kick to set up Steve Videtich's 25-yard field goal late in the second quarter.

COME BACK: For the third time in two weeks, the Storm had a defensive touchdown called back. An offside penalty on lineman BJ Cohen nullified Gary Compton's second-quarter interception return.

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