Arguably as much as any other player on the Cal Poly football roster, junior kicker Bobby Zalud looks like a great fit for the Big Sky Conference in the Mustangs’ first year in the league.
The Arkansas State transfer has twice been named Big Sky special teams player of the week in a conference that features some of the most accurate kickers in the country.
As a group, Big Sky kickers have combined to make 111 of 143 field goals (77.6 percent), a rate that ranks first among FCS conferences, narrowly beating out the Missouri Valley Conference (77 percent).
What makes the success rate even more impressive is the size of the Big Sky. With 13 teams, the conference is the largest in the FCS.
The Big Sky has played 19 more games than any other conference and attempted 38 more field goals than the next closest competing league.
Yet it remains the most accurate.
Led by No. 4 Colton Cook (13 of 15 on field goals) of Southern Utah, Big Sky kickers occupy three of the top eight in the FCS in field goals per game. Three more rank in the top 30.
Seven for 10 on his field-goal attempts, Zalud’s started his Cal Poly career in impressive fashion by making his first three field goals, including a 51-yarder that proved to be the winning score in a 24--22 victory at Wyoming.
His misses came immediately following a week where he aggravated a back injury and suffered spasms.
The junior from Carlsbad missed 28- and 30-yarders in a victory over UC Davis the week he suffered the injury and missed on a 39-yarder indoors at North Dakota a week later.
Since then, Zalud has been perfect again, hitting four straight, including a 49-yarder against Portland State last week that gave the Mustangs their first lead of the game.
Zalud is 4 for 4 on field goal attempts of 40 yards or more and has also made all 35 of his PATs to rank 29th in the FCS in scoring with eight points per game.
With a quick-kicking motion and high trajectory, Zalud has also prevented having any of his 45 kick attempts locked.
Though not one of the elite, Zalud also ranks 38th in the FCS with a 40.6 average on punts after taking over the duty when sophomore punter Paul Hundley was ruled ineligible to start the year.