UCLA football: Kicker Kip Smith feels, looks like a new man
Kip Smith appears to be winning the confidence game that is kicking.
"Thoughts of missing just aren't in my mind anymore," the UCLA kicker said late Saturday night after making both his field-goal attempts, including a 20-yarder midway through the fourth quarter that provided the go-ahead score during the Bruins' 27-17 victory over San Jose State at the Rose Bowl.
Smith said he had spoken with sports psychologists, coaches and teammates (past and present) the last two weeks in an effort to boost the mental side of his game. He needed help after missing a 32-yard try and an extra point during UCLA's season-opening loss to Houston.
"You just can't think about negative things," Smith said. "You just have to believe in yourself."
Smith's first field goal, from 38 yards midway through the third quarter, gave UCLA a 17-10 lead. He said he didn't feel extra pressure when he lined up for his second attempt, even though San Jose State had tied the score on Brandon Rutley's 65-yard touchdown run.
"Honestly, I didn't realize that kick was that big until afterward," said Smith, who also converted all three extra-point attempts.
One flawless game does not constitute a successful season, so Smith said he's trying to put it in perspective.
"It was a great night," Smith said. "I have to enjoy this and come back and be consistent."
Photos: (Top) UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel congratulates kicker Kip Smith after his PAT gave the Bruins a 27-17 lead over San Jose State on Saturday. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times. (Inset) Kip Smith. Credit: Don Liebig / UCLA