BOISE — After two seasons in a row where a missed field goal at the end of a game meant the only blemish on a perfect record, Boise State kickers knew something had to change.
As other teammates gathered for player-run practices, the kickers and snappers often met together to work on their craft. In fall camp, they’ve played a more active role, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Those guys have worked as hard as anybody on this team, and I think we’re making progress,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said.
“No. 1, the guys have worked as hard, if not harder, than anybody on our whole team this offseason,” tight ends/special teams coach Scott Huff said.
If Saturday’s fall scrimmage was any indication of how far the two kickers (Michael Frisina and Dan Goodale) in the competition have come, then progress has certainly been made.
The duo was 12-of-13 on field goals, including opening up the scrimmage with each going 3-for-3.
“That could’ve been disastrous to start those guys off in the scrimmage … but it was awesome — what a great way (to start),” Huff said. “Hopefully they just keep that confidence.”
Frisina, Goodale and punter Trevor Harman have been bigger presences in fall practices thus far, working on snaps or fundamentals as the rest of the team is doing position drills. They also often work with the strength and conditioning staff, working on leg strength and flexibility.
Huff added that kickers in the past would sometimes walk onto the practice field and immediately start kicking. This season, the group will do other warmups, preserving their legs like pitchers do with their arms.
“I’ve seen a lot of great things,” Harman said. “They’re really competing hard. I think they’re a lot better than they were even in the spring. This year, we talked about it, trying to maximize every practice.”
The Broncos aren’t too concerned with the kickers’ physical abilities — Petersen noted that even though scrimmage kicks were inside 40 yards, both had the distance to go further. No, the unknown element is mental, which is paramount in kicking.
“They know they’ve worked hard, they just feel confident,” Huff said. “That’s the No. 1 thing for those guys. They were never bad fundamentally.
“It’s going to be tested — you miss one of those things and it’s like ‘how really confident am I?’”
The team has plenty of confidence in the big-legged Harman, who also will serve as the kickoff specialist — Petersen said “he can be quite a weapon for us.” Harman will have an experienced kickoff coverage group that was among the nation’s best last season.
Same goes for the team’s returners. Mitch Burroughs and Chris Potter averaged 12.1 yards per return last season and should both be involved again this season.
A group of shifty kickoff returners are vying for time, including D.J. Harper, Burroughs and his speedy brother, Dallas.
“I’m excited,” Potter said. “I think we’ve done a great job the last few years of pushing each other, and I think we have some good talent back there. Special teams is going to be fun.”