The Syracuse Orange football team hasn’t even put on pads for the start of fall camp, but they’ve already suffered a season-ending injury to a key player. After redshirting last season to heal a hip injury, place kicker Ross Krautman was expected to be back for his senior season in 2014. Instead, he has been medically ruled out to return to football and will not be available for the Orange this season.
As a true freshman in 2010, Krautman put together one of the best seasons from a kicker in school history. He converted 18 of his 19 field goal attempts, with those 18 makes tying the school’s single-season record. Krautman also made 16 consecutive field goals during the course of that season, tying him with the legendary Gary Anderson for the most consecutive field goals made in school history. More importantly, he kicked the game-winning field goal in the game that clinched bowl eligibility for the Orange, sending Syracuse to its first bowl game in six years.
The next two years didn’t go quite as well for Krautman, who put up respectable, but unspectacular numbers while he secretly battled the hip injury that would ultimately end his career. After playing the first two games of the 2013 season, he decided to take himself off the field with the hope of getting proper treatment for the injury, returning to full health and returning to the Orange in 2014. Syracuse was counting on him coming back and returning to form this season, but now they will have to go with plan B, which is a plan with plenty of holes in it.
Stepping in for Krautman this season will likely by Ryan Norton, who took over as the team’s place kicker last year when Krautman was forced to the sidelines. Norton made just 10 of 15 field goal attempts last season, and in a must-win game late in the season against Pittsburgh Panthers, Norton missed both a field goal and an extra point in a game that the Orange lost in excruciating fashion by a single point, a game that nearly cost them bowl eligibility.
Norton had his moments last year, and he certainly has enough ability to be a decent kicker for the Orange, but he’s nowhere near as good as Krautman was early in his career when he was healthy. Norton has work to do if he is going to be as good as Krautman was in 2011 and 2012 when he silently struggled with his hip injury. Unfortunately, Syracuse doesn’t have a choice but to go with Norton as the place kicker in 2014, and if he struggles again, it could make a big difference if the Orange end up playing a lot of close games, making the loss of Krautman a big one for Syracuse heading into the 2014 season.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.