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Why didn't Boise State play for the touchdown on its final drive, and other burning questions


There were many pressing questions following Boise State's loss to TCU on Saturday, including "Why, God, why?" and "Where are the Candid Cameras? This can't be happening again." There were also some football-related questions and some second-guessing, centered mostly on Boise State's final drive. With a somewhat level head and a loosey-goosey grip on perspective, I take a shot at some answers that might serve a purpose in figuring out where this Bronco team goes from here. The first among those:

Why didn't Boise State play for the touchdown on its final drive?

Answer: Coach Pete thought Dan Goodale could make a 39-yard field goal. 

From Coach Pete, postgame

"I think you're playing percentages and odds right there. Do you try to throw one in from about 30 yards? Or are you going to try and make a field goal? That's what we thought our best chance was."

Keep in mind that the Broncos did not need a touchdown to win; they only needed a field goal. So after taking over at the 35 after the hometown pass interference call, Boise State gained 13 more yards to turn an impossible 52-yard field goal into a makeable 39-yard field goal. And Coach Pete thought Dan Goodale would make it.

Question: What would have given him that idea? No one trusts Dan Goodale.

Answer: Goodale had been kicking well in practice.

Though the walk-on has been hit-or-miss (or shank) this season so much so that Boise State's modus operandi on fourth down in opponent territory is to go for out without even thinking twice, his practice performance won over the coaching staff. 

"He's been kicking pretty well in practice and we thought he could make it ... He has been making progress and he's got a strong leg, he really does, and it was lined up right in the middle."

Goodale's previous big-game kicking experience was a fourth quarter field goal against Air Force, which he made. He had been perfect on all five PATs in this game. If you're a Bronco coach who sees him make field goals all day in practice, why wouldn't you trust him with in that spot?

Question: But the kick wasn't even close!

Answer: And herein lies the lesson: It may time for Bronco coaches to place less importance on the practice performance of their kickers.

We had this conversation last year when Kyle Brotzman missed against Nevada and Boise State recruited a kicking lifer in Jake Van Ginkel. Do kickers come with a certain level of clutch? I think the opposite may be true. Some kickers cannot handle big-game situations. 

I appreciate that the Broncos had faith in Goodale to make the field goal, and now that he's missed, I believe we will see a different type of late-game strategy in the next close game. The Boise State offense will press harder for more yards or a touchdown, and the field goal will be a last resort, not the Plan A. 

Your turn

What is your take on Boise State's late-game drive? Do you think Boise State made the right call to play for the field goal? What would you do next time? Share your thoughts in the comments.