If you were able to eliminate his field-goal attempts from the left hash in 2015, Diego Gonzalez would have had a phenomenal first year as the Buffaloes' starting place kicker. But unfortunately his issues from the left side left a stain on his junior campaign.
Head coach Mike MacIntyre believes they were able to identify and correct Diego's issue: “It was really how he was stepping to it off the left hash and how he was approaching. He was overcompensating. You know how your golf swing is? When you have your hook, then you [overcompensate and] slice it.
“He was stepping to the left on his first step and then his right foot was turning a little too much. He has corrected that so now it will be on a straight line. And that takes a while to correct. You have to work it, work it, especially in the heat of the battle. We believe he has definitely corrected it.”
Gonzalez, who was born and raised in Mexico, began his college career at Monterrey Tech, south of the United States border. After transferring to CU, he had to sit out in 2013, and then he served as a back-up in 2014 before stepping into the spotlight last season.
Surprisingly, he said there was little culture shock moving to the United States. And Gonzalez said he has even found “a couple places” in Boulder that have adequate Mexican food.
“But the best Mexican food I've had here is when my mom comes to visit,” he said.
Gonzalez was a co-recipient of the Buffs' most improved special teams player award in the spring, and he confirmed he feels confident in his accuracy from the left hash now. If you are feeling confident, why not set high goals?
“At least a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, that is what I am aiming for,” Gonzalez said, not with his trademark smile, but rather a straight face. “Hopefully I can do that this year.”
Gonzalez made 18-of-29 field-goals last season, including eight-of-nine from inside 30 yards. He also connected on all 35 of his extra point attempts, extending Colorado's streak to 138 made in a row.
With a full season under his belt as a starter, Gonzalez said he has learned to “trust myself and my steps now that I have fixed them, and [also] to treat every kick as if it is a game winner.”
The highlight of Gonzalez's junior season came when he hit a game-winning field-goal in overtime against Colorado State with his parents in the stands. His parents are expected to be up in Colorado to watch the Buffs' first two games against Colorado State and Idaho State.
“I am excited for that,” Diego said.
Additional Tuesday notes:
*** During his Media Day press conference last Friday, MacIntyre talked about the addition of Matt Thompson to the staff as the director of quality control for the special teams. He ran the Elite Kicking Academy in Broomfield in recent years, and was previously a video assistant for the Buffaloes during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
“We have been working a lot with Matt, even before he got here to CU. I worked out with him privately,” Gonzalez said. “[Former] coach [Toby] Neinas was more like a special teams guy. [Matt Thompson] is more like a kicking guy. So it is more specific for kickers and punters.”
*** The temperature in Boulder reached 92 degrees before the end of the Tuesday's practice. That made MacIntyre happy.
“My prayers were answered from Sunday in church. I prayed for this and I hope it stays hot like this. We need it to,” MacIntyre said. “We're in good condition but when you get hot, it just kind of makes your miserable and you have to fight through it mentally. That is what I want them to do, and not give in to it. I thought they fought through it today.”
*** MacIntyre jokingly referred to senior defensive back Chidobe Awuzie as “The Matrix” because he was all over the field making plays on Tuesday.
“That is 'Chido.' I am so used to it now it is just common. If he doesn't make one, I get on him,” MacIntyre said. “He is an excellent player and we moved him around everywhere. He was sacking, he was covering, typical Chido.”
*** Redshirt freshman running back Dino Gordon is back practicing, but it has yet to be determined how many games he will have to sit out this season due to his involvement in an off-the-field incident in April.
*** The Buffs will go through their first two-a-day on Wednesday, with a closed morning practice from 9:20-11:30 am and a closed afternoon practice from 7:30-9 pm.
“Players are never ready to start two-a-days. Coaches are, though,” MacIntyre said. “That is just the way it is. Any sport that has two-a-days, the players don't really want to do it but it is a necessary evil because you need to get so many practices in before the first game. They'll be ready to go, and I hope to see a good mental attitude out of them.”