LARAMIE, Wyo. — The Bronze Boot wouldn’t have ended up in the hands of Wyoming football team Saturday night if not for the right cleat of Cooper Rothe.
Rothe, Wyoming’s sophomore kicker, set a career high with three made field goals, and the Cowboys needed every one of them in their 16-13 win over Colorado State. The fact that they came on a night cloaked in rain and snow made Rothe’s game all the more impressive.
“We talked about that at the pregame meal and said that weather’s going to come into play,” head coach Craig Bohl said. “And the team that executes, and the special teams that execute and are able to deliver and block those things out and have the mental intensity and execute — that’s huge. That was, as it came down to it, the difference in the ball game.”
Rothe converted from 25, 43 and 32 yards, and the latter two kicks came in the snow.
“Personally, I just tried to not worry about any elements,” said Rothe, a Colorado native. “This whole week, we’ve been kicking in wind, and coach Bohl kind of made the analogy, he said, ‘When you’re shooting hoops outside and it’s windy, you just aim a little bit to the right.’ So I think that helped.
“That made a lot of sense to me, and ever since then, just forget about the wind. Forget about the rain, snow, whatever it is. Just lock in.”
As if Rothe needed any reminder of how imperfect of a night it was for kicking, Colorado State mishandled the snap on a second-half attempt.
“I think Drew (Van Maanen) does a great job snapping,” Rothe said. “Even Caleb (Cantrell) when he comes in, and Nick Szpor does a great job holding, so I don’t have much to worry about other than myself.”
Rothe’s first field goal came at the end of a red zone trip that was stopped short of the end zone, but his second, from 43, was the product of a 1-minute drive by the Cowboys’ offense.
“I think they trust me within that range,” Rothe said, “so it feels good to know that the offense is rolling, and to get them points feels good, just knowing they can trust me.”
Bohl said the night’s weather “certainly” had an affect on the game.
“I told our team before the game weather may come up, and I heard (legendary Ohio State coach) Woody Hayes once say, ‘If you’re going to play in the North Atlantic, you’ve got to train in the North Atlantic,” Bohl said. “Well, if you’re going to play in Wyoming, you’ve got to train in Wyoming, so maybe sometimes those players will understand why we go outside when it’s snowing.”
The teams only passed a combined 10 times in the second half.
“I mean, obviously we knew they were going to run the ball more,” Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson said, “because it was wet, and it’s harder to throw and catch in that stuff.”
Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, who had never played in the snow before, was 10-of-20 for 138 yards.
“I didn’t feel too bad with it,” he said. “I know we probably didn’t throw the ball too much in the second half, but I felt like when we did, I was able to control the ball and put it where I felt like it needed to be.”
But the precipitation affected even the ground game.
“Footing comes into play, and one other game that I had coached in at one time, when I was at NDSU, we played Eastern Washington, and it was surprising,” Bohl said. “You wouldn’t think that you would need cleat cleaners, but what occurs is that rubber comes up and gets into your cleats, so our guys are utilizing our cleat cleaners.”
Said Wilson: “It had little nubs that would stick up, and you’d press your cleats on it, and it would take all the snow off. So we did that every time we went to the sidelines.”
Running back Kellen Overstreet scored the game-winning touchdown and felt like the snow worked to his advantage.
“I haven’t really played in the snow,” he said. “I’ve played in rain before, and the thing is, you always know where you’re going, but the defense doesn’t. So if I make a cut, they’re not going to expect it in the snow, and they’re going to lose their footing more likely than I am. It was fun.”
Maybe it will make cold-weather practices easier in the future.
“When I’m in practice, I’m going to be honest with you, if you see it’s even a little bit chilly out there, I’m in long sleeves, the long johns,” Van Maanen said. “I’m in the whole nine yards. And in the games, you can see I go pretty much out bare.
“I think you just have that adrenaline when it comes to game time. But during practice, I will be in a hoodie come Monday. I can promise you that.”
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com