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October 10, 2013
Although junior kicker Niklas Sade joked that it feels like 20 years ago that he was a freshman at NCSU, Sade spent this summer trying to return to that rookie-year mentality.
"I was trying to prove myself," Sade recalled about his 2011 season. "For me, I think I slumped my sophomore year. I didn't have the season I wanted to, and this junior year I have come out with the freshman mentality that I am hungry, want to prove to everyone and prove to myself that I am the best one for the job."
Through five games Sade has done that. He's connected on 9 of 10 field goal tries this season with a long of 48 yards. He's made all 15 extra points and 24 of his 26 kickoffs have gone for touchbacks. On the latter stat, expect that trend to continue.
"One of the few times I didn't get it in the end zone, I think they busted one for like 40 yards, so I think back of the end zone is the goal for this season," Sade half-joked.
Overall though Sade feels good about where he's at mentally. He noted that all of his kicks have been inside 50 yards, which is where his comfort zone lies. Part of him wishes to get a chance of something out to 55 yards if the opportunity presents itself.
As a freshman, Sade made 11 of 16 field goals with a long of 45 yards. Last season saw some successes. He connected on a 50-yarder, made a game-winner at Maryland and hit a temporarily-game tying try at Miami in clutch situations. But Sade also only made 13 of 23 overall field goal attempts in 2012.
"During the season I started not trusting my technique as much," Sade recalled. "I was never really a fundamental kind of guy kicking. I kind of just trusted what I had. When you don't really work on it that much, that's when you don't hit the ball like you want to, and it starting spiraling downhill.
"This offseason I really made sure to really get a set technique, get my fundamentals and flexibility better and have much better technique."
One subtle change that Sade noted was he begins to warm up a little sooner this year, beginning to find himself by the net on the sideline whenever State crosses its own 35-yard line. That way in case there is an explosive play, he will have a quick chance to get a few kicks in.
The overall results of his offseason works is showing off on the field. He was named a Lou Groza 'Star of the Week' performer after he made four field goals, including a 45-yarder, in the opener against Louisiana Tech. A week later, his game-winning 48-yarder with 33 seconds left sealed a 23-21 win over Richmond, earning him ACC Specialist of the Week honors.
Those late-game situations excite Sade.
"I love those moments," he said. "You got one chance to be the hero. I love those kind of situations."
Sade also is high on where he's at right now.
"I'm happy where I am right now, but I want to keep it going, especially later on towards the end of the season," Sade said. "Every game is important now, especially conference game and getting to a bowl."
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