Even after successfully connecting on 17 of 23 field goals during his redshirt freshman season in 2013, West Virginia kicker Josh Lambert said his confidence in his playing ability now, as opposed to a year ago, is not even comparable.
Lambert said it wasn’t until he kicked the 34-yard game-winning field goal at TCU to send WVU back to Morgantown victorious in a 30-27 overtime win that his confidence was where he needed it to be.
“At the beginning of last year, I was kind of iffy,” Lambert said. “I would question myself if it came down to it (and ask myself if I) would be able to come through, and then as the year progressed, we (eventually played) TCU.
“Before the TCU field goal, I knew I was ready for it, and I was hoping that he (Jaden Oberkrom) missed his so I could go out there and get my chance to make mine.”
Lambert took advantage of his opportunity to win the game for the Mountaineers, which led him to being named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week.
“That was my first game-winner ever,” he said. “Not even in high school.”
Now, entering his second season as the primary kicker for West Virginia, special teams coordinator Joe DeForest said Lambert could reach new heights in 2014, especially with his health being far better this year.
“He was hurt last year. He had a groin and another muscle that was bothering him,” he said. “He kicked about 75 percent.
“He loves to kick. He loves to warm up. Well, that tears his body down. His leg strength is the best it’s ever been. I think that comes with strength and conditioning, and it comes with not kicking as much.”
Lambert said he was over kicking in 2013, which led to fatigue as the season kept progressing. However, he said he’s learned from his mistakes in 2013 and will hopefully be more successful this season.
“I was being too hard on myself mentally, so I had to get my confidence back because I know I’m better than that,” he said. “Being a kicker, you’re going to miss – everyone’s not perfect all the time. So when you do miss, you have to be able to shrug it off.
“I know what to expect of the football season, and I know what to expect from the games (and) the preparation leading up to the game,” he said.
Entering Saturday’s season opener against No. 2 Alabama, Lambert said he’ll be ready to go at any time during the game – even if it’s for another game-winner.
“I think it’s just an experience thing, and now I know if I’m put out there I can come through,” he said.