They werent technically game-winning field goals. They were appreciated nonetheless.
Boise State senior kicker Michael Frisina made 20- and 30-yard field goals in the regular-season finale Dec. 1 at Nevada as the Broncos hung on for a 27-21 victory and secured a share of the Mountain West title.
He is 12-for-12 on kicks of 30 yards or less this season a significant step forward for the Broncos embattled kicker position.
No. 20 Boise State concludes its season Saturday against Washington in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
After the Nevada game, Frisina said, I got a lot of love in the locker room Hey, nice job. So that was nice. Nice to see that what youve been doing and working hard for all year and basically all your life came down to meaning something important. Thats the first and only conference championship Ive ever won. Ive never won anything in Little League sports, high school, going back to junior college. That was really exciting for me to finally get a conference championship in my last season and the last regular-season game in my career.
That those kicks came at the site of the Broncos most famous field goal blunders Kyle Brotzmans misses on the last play of regulation and in overtime in a crushing 2010 loss meant little to Frisina, who wasnt on that team, but was poignant for some who were.
I was proud of him, special teams coach Scott Huff said. It was a little bit of redemption.
The kicker position has been under quarterback-like scrutiny since the misses by Brotzman, who finished his career as the top-scoring kicker in Football Bowl Subdivision history. Dan Goodale, now a sophomore backup, missed a potential game-winner last year in the teams lone loss to TCU.
Its a good opportunity to take the spotlight off that position, Frisina said.
And hes done that, to a degree, by becoming predictable. Hes perfect from 30 and in and 0-for-5 from outside 30 with one blocked PAT. He ranks second in the Mountain West in field goals made and third in field goal percentage (70.6).
Everyone would like to see some longer kicks made BSU hasnt made one longer than 33 yards since Nov. 19, 2010 but coaches are pleased with the consistency.
Frisina and Goodale combined to make six short field goals and miss eight PATs last season.
When you send that team out there, you really need and want those points, coach Chris Petersen said. Thats what weve come to realize. We hope that were not flipping a coin maybe we get them, maybe not. We send him out there and hes come through and thats great. Sometimes at the end of the game you dont see maybe how that changed the game, where it gave you a little more breathing room, but I think its been very key.
Frisina remains confident he can deliver on kicks up to 40 yards, which was the preseason goal for the position. Three of his five misses were close, he said including a 44-yarder that hit an upright at New Mexico.
Its not a mental thing because I know I can make kicks from out there, he said. I do it all the time in practice. Thats just how the chips have fallen.
Maybe that will change Saturday.
I was just talking to him, Petersen said as he followed Frisina into the press conference. I think its going to be really important for him to finish this thing off like hes been going because it could certainly come down to a field goal or two.
Frisina, who is 5-foot-5 and 162 pounds, said he enjoys anonymity on campus. He presented an instructor with his list of travel obligations at the beginning of the semester. Are you with the band? the instructor asked.
Boise State will face one Pac-12 team for the 10th consecutive season.
The Broncos are 6-3 against the Wests top conference during that stretch. Theyve won four in a row and five of the past six. They also beat Utah in 2006 and 2010, before the Utes joined the Pac-12.
The matchups have special meaning for players who grew up watching those teams and in some cases were overlooked by them in recruiting.
When you look at our roster youll see a lot of guys from the West Coast and maybe guys that were not big enough, tall enough or fast enough to go to some of those schools, said senior wide receiver Chris Potter, who is 5-9, 159. Its fun. Its exciting.
Senior wide receiver Mitch Burroughs (wrist) and senior nickel Dextrell Simmons (hamstring) have shown improvement in bowl practices and should be able to contribute in the bowl game, Petersen said.
Petersens half-joking advice to former assistants Sean Kugler (new UTEP head coach) and Bryan Harsin (new Arkansas State head coach): Good luck. Have fun. Be careful what you wish for.
Im happy for them, I really am, Petersen said. And theyre going to be great. Theyre really good coaches and good people. Both those guys are ready. Im probably more surprised at Sean than I am at Bryan. But Im excited for it. I cant wait to see it.
Petersen said he and Harsin have talked about getting together to discuss offense.
Were already talking about some offensive things, which I love to talk about, he said. It was great.
Boise State graduate assistant and former defensive tackle Andrew Browning will join the staff at UTEP after the bowl game, Petersen said. He did not say what position Browning would fill.
Browning was an All-WAC senior for the Broncos during Kuglers one year (2006) as offensive line coach.
More coaches with Boise State ties likely will end up at UTEP or Arkansas State, Petersen said.
Thats good for everybody involved at Boise State, he said.
Running back Derrick Thomas (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) of Butler Community College in Kansas, committed to Boise State on Sunday during a visit to campus.
Thats the same school that produced defensive end Demarcus Lawrence.
Derrick can make an impact just like (Lawrence) did, Butler Community College head coach Troy Morrell said. Hes a physical runner. Hes got good size and speed combination, which I think is his best asset. He has exceptionally good hands catching out of the backfield. He can line up at slot and run routes as a receiver. Hes a really good blocker, too.
Thomas, who is from Dothan, Ala., will have two years to play two seasons. He spent three years at Butler, using a non-injury redshirt his first year.
Thomas, who describes himself as a downhill runner, carried 157 times for 829 yards and nine touchdowns this season while splitting time with West Virginia-bound Dreamius Smith.
He chose Boise State over Toledo, Colorado State and Georgia State.
Opportunity, Thomas said of why he chose the Broncos. The welcoming and loving atmosphere. Being around great, great people coaches and players.
Two more recent commitments confirmed by the Idaho Statesman or hometown newspapers: wide receiver Kendal Keys (6-2, 185) of Helix High in La Mesa, Calif., and defensive end/outside linebacker Gabe Perez (6-4, 215) of Valencia High in Placentia, Calif. (Updated recruiting class, page S4).
Chadd Cripe is in his 11th season covering Boise State football for the Idaho Statesman. He also is a voter in The Associated Press Top 25. Contact him at email@example.com or 377-6398. His Twitter account is @IDS_BroncoBeat.