Dan Goodale has made eight straight field-goal attempts. Two years ago, that might have been a problem.
I would be like, Oh, Ive made five in a row. Im going to miss now, Goodale said. Now Ive got more positive self-talk. Ive got five in a row. Lets keep it rolling.
Its a simple change that Goodale and his coaches say helps explain how a kicker who missed six PATs in 2011 has become an All-Mountain West candidate in 2013.
The physical tools havent changed much.
The mental approach so critical to kickers, like golfers has changed dramatically.
The mental side of everything is the harder part of it, coach Chris Petersen said. Kicking is no different. You look at some of our best players, its not because theyre physically so different. Theyve got good skill, but mentally theyre different.
Goodale is 8-for-9 on field-goal attempts this season, including a career-long 39-yarder last week at Utah State. Hes 27-of-29 on PATs, but his misses came on a bad hold and a blown protection.
He has produced touchbacks on half of his 44 kickoffs a major upgrade for a team that produced touchbacks on 18 percent of kickoffs last year.
He also booted a perfect surprise onside kick against UT Martin, forced a turnover on a pooch kickoff against Fresno State and has helped the Broncos limit opponents to 19.2 yards per kickoff return.
His kickoffs have been spectacular, Petersen said. Ive said all along, way back when, that the guys got the makings of a really, really fine kicker. He has great pop to his leg. The ball comes up quickly. Its just a matter of tweaking some little things. Sometimes, that tweaking takes a year or two to get it just right. I dont think anyone worked harder in the offseason than Dan. All that hard work has really paid off.
Like a lot of kickers, Goodales talent can be traced to the soccer field. Soccer and basketball were the two sports he played the most as a youth.
He played three years of varsity basketball at Timberline High and was an all-conference point guard as a senior.
The 5-foot-10, 196-pounder thought he might have a college future on the hardwood.
Obviously Im not very tall, he said. That went by the wayside.
He joined his friends on the football field in seventh grade. The team had a kicker that year but needed one when he was in eighth-grade.
One day out at the Timberline field, I started trying to kick field goals with my dad, Goodale said.
He thought the block-style tee used by high school kickers was mandatory, but didnt have one. He used one of his dads flat-bottomed black shoes instead.
I didnt like that, Goodale said, so I just started kicking off the ground. I never used a block in high school.
He split his sophomore year between kicking for the varsity (three quarters each week) and playing wide receiver for the junior varsity (two quarters).
He played wide receiver for the varsity as a junior and was a wide receiver and part-time defensive back as a senior. He made first-team all-state as a punter and second team as a wide receiver his senior year.
He was considering small-school basketball when Boise State offered him a walk-on spot on the football team.
That first fall camp was rough for me, he said. I was not prepared for definitely the weight-room stuff and then what practice was like.
He redshirted during Kyle Brotzmans senior year and began to show his potential in spring 2011. Goodale won the starting job, but Petersen was shy about using him. He was 3-for-4 with a long of 32 yards when the Broncos needed a field goal to beat TCU and likely win the Mountain West and advance to a Bowl Championship Series game.
Goodale tried a 39-yarder and missed wide right.
I felt like I was prepared, but Id never played in a game before, so once I was out there, it was kind of shell-shocking for me, he said of his freshman season. I obviously didnt do very well.
Said Petersen: It just so happened we put him in there for a hard field goal with tons of pressure. He just wasnt ready for that at that time. Thats more on me as a coach to put him in that situation. Because you could see he had a ton of potential.
Goodale lost the job to Michael Frisina, who went 3-for-4 on kicks of 30 yards or less the rest of the season.
They competed for the job again in 2012, and Frisina won. He hit 15-of-20 field-goal attempts, including the game-winner in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Goodale took over as the kickoff specialist late in the season but never tried a field goal or PAT.
I felt like I was capable of playing last year, but it didnt go my way, Goodale said. I didnt really let that get me down. On the sidelines, I felt like I was ready to go. I think Ive taken a step since then as well. Its just been a slow progression for me.
The last two years, I havent really changed anything in my swing. But my approach and my confidence and just my mental ability have gotten a lot better.
Last month at Fresno State, when the Broncos were driving toward a potential game-winning field goal, he wanted the opportunity. The drive stalled.
I compared it to how I felt (against) TCU and I felt a ton better, Goodale said. My mental preparation has been a lot better to the point that if we get in that position again, I feel confident that Im going to make the field goal.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat