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What Malik Zaire has to do with the Bucs and Roberto Aguayo

JIM DAMASKE | Times

During my recent research on Malik Zaire, I stumbled on a tie that connects the soon-to-be Florida Gators quarterback with another offseason topic of conversation: embattled Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo.

The first real highlight of Zaire's career at Notre Dame was his performance in the 2014 Music City Bowl in a 31-28 win over LSU. Zaire had 96 rushing yards, 96 passing yards (with a 12-of-15 performance) while rushing for a touchdown and throwing for another.

But look at the ESPN recap of the game, and you'll see another player in the headline.

Kicker Kyle Brindza.

Brindza stumbled into the bowl game, having missed 6 of his last 9 attempts. He made his only field goal against LSU -- a 32-yard game winner as time expired.

It's probably not the only reason the Detroit Lions picked him up as an undrafted free agent, but I'm guessing it didn't hurt. The Lions then sent him to the Bucs for tight end Tim Wright. 

Brindza didn't work out in Tampa Bay. The Bucs cut him that October after he missed five of seven field goals (plus two extra points)

His struggles showed the importance of a good kicker. Brindza could have cost the Bucs two games (and Lovie Smith's job).

"A great kicker can be the difference in several games," general manager Jason Licht said.

Licht made those comments after his team reacted to previous kicking problems...by trading up to draft Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo.

We'll find out whether Zaire makes a better early impression than either kicker did.

[Last modified: Monday, June 5, 2017 12:20pm]

    

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