Cooper Still Confident In His Abilities

Saturday's contest against Cincinnati will surely not be the focus of any recruiting video put out by the Mountaineer coaching staff any time soon. The Blue and Gold played as badly as they have at any time in recent history, and the sloppy play was enough to turn a youth league coach's face red. Despite all that went wrong, however, the home team still had a shot to win the game late in the fourth quarter.

As Brad Cooper trotted onto the field to attempt a 48-yard field goal that would have given WVU a 16-15 lead, Mountaineer fans held their breath. West Virginia has won a game on a long field goal about as often as Rutgers has been picked to win the Big East. Those who followed the Mountaineers through their spring and fall practices, however, felt a sense of confidence.

Cooper, who transferred to Morgantown from Middle Tennessee State, had consistently connected on similar attempts in practice. The strong-legged former soccer standout had been the talk of WVU's srping and fall camps, and many predicted that at least one game would be won off his leg. Maybe this would be the one.

The hopes for a magical finish faded, however, as the Bowling Green, Ky. native's kick sailed wide right. The miss capped off a day that Cooper would like to erase from his mind. The sports management major had already missed on both an extra point and a field goal try, and despite his best effort it was just not his day.

"It felt good when I hit it," said Cooper of the final attempt. "All of my mechanics were right, and I connected well, it just didn't go."

The young kicker was visibly disappointed that he could not come through for his teammates, but after taking the weekend to refocus, Cooper is ready to get back on the field.

"This was my first bad game in my mind," said Cooper. "Against East Carolina I missed a questionable extra point, but I kicked off well and felt I had a good game. This weekend, though, was a bad game. Everyone goes through this at some point, and I just have to step back and evaluate everything I've done, refocus, and set new goals."

Cooper, who has spent his summers working with kicking legends like Ray Guy and Jim Breech, has lofty expectations for himself and expects nothing less that perfection, but is fully aware of the importance of putting his mistakes behind him.

"You have a tendency, once you get to a point that you always expect success, to try too hard sometimes," explained the junior place-kicker. "I've been told by numerous kickers that if you have a bad day, you just have to get away from it for a while. That way you are starting over and you can get it back."

Cooper remembered that advice after perhaps the worst afternoon of his career, and he is hopeful that it will bring results.

"I took Sunday as a day to unwind and relax," said Cooper. "I didn't even watch any football, because I wanted to clear my mind and focus on the next game. I think I will be refocused and ready to go when Saturday comes around."

No, this past Saturday was not Cooper's day to shine in the college football spotlight, but do not be surprised if that day comes. The Greenwood High School alum has all of the right tools and surrounds himself with the best in his field to make himself better. Number 12 still believes that he can make an impact on this team, and if given the chance again, he is likely to do just that.

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