LARAMIE — Coming off a season in which he was mentioned among the nation’s best at his position, this isn’t the start Cooper Rothe envisioned.
Rothe, Wyoming’s senior placekicker, is 8 of 12 on field goals through the Cowboys’ first five games. He drilled his only two attempts last week in Wyoming’s rout of UNLV, but he was wide on two extra points, which only added to his frustration given what he expects of himself.
“I’d say I definitely expected it to be different,” Rothe said. “I had perfect expectations, but I knew adversity would come in one form or another.”
Rothe has already missed three more field goals than he did all of last season when he led the nation in field-goal percentage (94.1) and was one of three finalists for the Lou Groza award, which is given annually to the country’s top placekicker. And those two missed extra points are more than he had the previous two seasons combined (64 of 65).
Rothe at least knows why he’s misfired. His first three missed field goals were all pulled to the left after he ended up overcompensating for the elements, he said.
“Especially when I feel wind in my face, I think that I have to kick it harder,” Rothe said. “And usually when you try to kick it hard, you pull your hips through too much and it goes to the left. Just trusting my swing. I think we’ve been working everyday to go out outside and kick in the wind rather than with the wind because usually that’s easier.”
The other miss was blocked against Idaho before Wyoming held on for a 21-16 win on Sept. 14.
So Wyoming coach Craig Bohl stopped short of putting it all on Rothe as he dismissed any notion that he’s concerned about his kicker’s inconsistent start to the season.
“I think Cooper is kicking the ball well, but there’s three facets in that,” Bohl said. “There’s the kicker, there’s the holder and there’s the snapper. We’ve got some work to do with those three elements.”
The veteran said it hasn’t shaken his confidence.
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“I’ve kicked a lot of field goals and kicked a lot of extra points,” Rothe said. “I’m keeping everything positive.”
Braden Smith has been part of the rotation all season at free safety and even got his first career start against Idaho. Last week, he also got some reps at cornerback.
That wasn’t the plan, Bohl said, but desperate times called for desperate measures. The Cowboys’ depth at the position has been ravaged by attrition to the point true freshman Jordan Murry was thrown into the starting lineup against UNLV.
Sophomore C.J. Coldon is out for the season with an injury. With the statuses of Tyler Hall (concussion) and Antonio Hull (personal matter) still unknown as it pertains to their availability for San Diego State next week, Bohl said Smith will likely continue to rep at both positions during the bye week.
Wait and see
After Trey Smith injured his ankle against Tulsa, Bohl said Smith would miss six to eight weeks. That means it’s possible Smith could miss the rest of the season.
Should that happen, Bohl said he and Smith have yet to discuss whether the senior running back would want to pursue a sixth year of eligibility or if that would even be possible. Smith has only played in four games — the maximum number allowed in order to maintain a year of eligibility under the NCAA’s redshirt rule — but is already in his fifth collegiate season after transferring from Louisville.
“We’ll see, but I do know it’s going to be quite a ways for him to get back,” Bohl said.