BOZEMAN – There were 134 plays in the Montana State-Western Illinois football game, and the biggest-impact player went in for only 12 of them.
Every time MSU kicker Tristan Bailey stepped on the field, though, he made a statement.
Bailey was lights out on Thursday night, making all four of his field goals, including splitting the uprights on tries from 47 and 50 yards. He also made both of his point-after attempts.
“Since I’ve been here we haven’t had that at all. We’d be on their side of the 50 sometimes and we’d have to punt or go for it, and that’s not preferable,” said safety Brayden Konkol. “So Tristan, that’s a big addition for us, and we let him know that after the game. He played a big game.”
This is a world of difference from last year. In 2017, the Bobcats were a combined 5-of-11 on field goals. In just four quarters, Bailey is now one made kick shy of matching their entire 2017 season total.
MSU was 0-for-3 last season in field goals longer than 40 yards, but Bailey is already 2-for-2 in that category. Last October the Bobcats hit their longest field goal of the season against Northern Colorado, just 27 yards. In one outing Bailey hit three field goals longer than that.
“Every kick you have to prepare for the same, you can’t put too much pressure on a kick. If it’s the end of the game you can’t put too much pressure on it and feel like you have to make it and everything is going to end if you don’t. Everything is the same,” said Bailey when asked how he approaches his game.
Most athletes have pregame rituals before games, and Bailey is no different. In fact, he has a ritual before he lines up for the snap.
“I have positive affirmations I tell myself every time before I go kick, and it just keeps me calm and ready to go,” said Bailey.
When Bailey steps onto the field, Montana State head coach Jeff Choate knows he’s a game changer.
“The biggest play of the game is something you practice every year. At the end of the first half when we had no timeouts left, and we operated it and made it a one-score game at halftime,” said Choate, referencing the 47-yard field goal that sent the Bobcats in the locker room trailing 13-6 to the Leathernecks.
There were 134 total plays on Thursday, and it took the Wyoming transfer just 12 to prove he is a force to be reckoned with.