Routine is the necessity as Pedersen closes in on Bison football record
FARGO — The routine is the same, it has been since Cam Pedersen was a freshman in high school in Eau Claire, Wis. At North Dakota State, he kicked his first extra point on Sept. 12, 2015, after a Carson Wentz 27-yard touchdown run and the process has rarely gotten off track since.
The senior is now five extra points from becoming the school's all-time leader in that department. He's made 187 of 193 after going 6-for-6 in the season opener against Cal Poly. A good offensive effort by the Bison on Saturday, Sept. 15, against North Alabama at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome could put Adam Keller into second place.
"It's a credit to our offense and how dominant they've been," Pedersen said.
Broken down, each point after touchdown is the end result of a process that starts when the Bison cross midfield. Pedersen will grab a football or two and begin to warmup into a net on the sideline.
Once NDSU looks like it is a real threat to score, Pedersen will walk over to where Bison head coach Chris Klieman and assistant coach Conor Riley are standing. Those two handle the extra-point unit.
When Klieman says go for one, Pedersen will jog onto the field and begin his pre-kick routine. He walks to the spot of the hold, takes three steps back and two steps to the left. At the same time, he repeats a couple of basic techniques in his mind.
"And depending on the day, I think of the situation, if you're outside in the wind or whatever it might be," Pedersen said. "I just like to focus on one or two main things that I've been working on that week or that month."
From there it's a matter of harmonious timing between the long snapper, the holder and the kicker. In Pedersen's career, he's only on his second long snapper in Ross Kennelly after James Fisher handled it his first three years. He's on his third holder with Garret Wegner with the other two being Ben LeCompte and Cole Davis.
The play starts when the holder Wegner yells "set," flicks his right hand and lifts his left hand from the spot on where Pedersen will kick the ball. That's the signal for Kennelly to snap the ball. Pedersen, with his head down, is only looking at the point of the spot.
"That's the big thing with trust and repetition," Pedersen said. "I don't even have to worry about it."
He converted 57 of 59 his freshman year, missing one and having one blocked. He was 49 of 50 as a sophomore, missing one against Eastern Washington. He converted 75 of 78 last season, missing two and having one blocked. Of the six unsuccessful PATs in his career, only one had any bearing on the final score.
The unsuccessful point-after against Eastern helped that game go into overtime, which NDSU eventually won 50-44.
"I'm not happy about any missed kick," Pedersen said. "You just try to move on to the next one and look what you can do the next time out there."
It's a mental game, certainly. Pedersen talked to a sports psychologist this summer at a kicking camp with the subject being unexpectedly being rushed onto the field for a kick, whether it being an extra point after a long touchdown play or a field goal late in the game.
"You mix it with calmness," Pedersen said. "He said you're going to be excited, that's good. You should be excited, you just scored. But you try and balance that out with calmness and trust yourself with your technique. It's an extra point, you've done it a million times."
Or, in a college game, Pedersen has done it 187 times.