After missing half of his first field goal attempts through the first seven games of Wyoming's season, true freshman Cooper Rothe could have easily been cast off by the Cowboys coaching staff without a second thought.
However, a little show of faith went a long way for the Longmont High School graduate and as a result, Rothe had a big influence in Wyoming's 2016 turnaround season.
Always reliable as the Trojans kicker who also happened to play stellar defensively as a cornerback, Rothe finished his first collegiate season in spectacular fashion. Not only was he perfect in extra-point attempts (64-for-64) for the season, but he also went 7-for-8 in field goals in the final seven games for the Cowboys.
For Rothe, it was nice to be given the opportunity to atone for early inconsistency.
"My head coach is my position coach, too, and he really just kind of trusted me knowing that I was going through those freshman jitters," Rothe said this past week in a phone interview. "I mean, we got into a triple-overtime game in Week 1 and then I was kicking at Nebraska the next week.
"I think he just knew I would get over with some of that stuff, and he knew I could deal with challenges which I think I did. It just got better, and talking with teammates and having them tell me I was here for a reason."
The Cowboys — loaded with Colorado-raised products — were not expected to do much this season competing in the Mountain West Conference after going 2-10 last year.
But they scored a big opening win over Northern Illinois, beat Colorado State at Hughes Stadium in the Border War to open MWC play, and went on a five-game winning streak that put them bowl eligible for the first time since 2011.
Rothe's fortunes turned in a 30-28 win against Boise State, nailing two field goals in the upset. Hit hit two more of them and scored 10 points overall in a 34-33 win against San Diego State and kicked for 12 points in a wild one at Nevada-Las Vegas (a 69-66 loss).
With 103 points for the season, he currently ranks as the second-highest scoring true freshman in all of Division I football regardless of position, and only one other Div. I kicker was as perfect in PAT's with as many attempts (Tulsa's Redford Jones went 67-for-67).
"My kicking coach (Deric Yaussi) ... he kicked at Wyoming and he has the record for most points all-time at like 230, so I'm giving him (business) about passing him soon," Rothe said. "But it's really all credit to him, actually."
The Cowboys wrapped up the season with a 24-21 loss to BYU in the Poinsettia Bowl, but it didn't dampen the sense of progress as a team from Rothe's perspective.
"We trust in everyone on our team to make a big play, or to get it to where I can make a play," Rothe said. "(The bowl game) was a fun game, but we're just happy with our season and we're looking to build on it next year."