In early August, after his summer classes had concluded, senior CSU defensive end Patrick Goodpaster visited his home in Carson, Calif., where he spent time with his mother and girlfriend and enjoyed some home cooking.
It was one of the few moments this summer in which Goodpaster allowed himself to take a break from football.
“I was playing football every single day (of the summer),” Goodpaster said. “Then I went home to California right when we were done (with summer school) on Aug. 2 for four days with my girlfriend and my mom. (I) completely got away from football for four days, but then when I returned to campus it was time to go to work.”
When Goodpaster returned from his brief vacation and resumed his preparation for the upcoming season he was met with new expectations and increased pressure from his coaches.
“Pat Goodpaster is going to have to have his best year ever,” said defensive line coach Tom Ehlers.
Last season Goodpaster started all 13 games, recording 49 tackles and five sacks while earning an all-conference honorable mention. He said he is confident he can top his successful junior year.
“It’s my senior year. I want to go out with a bang,” Goodpaster said. “I trained hard this summer, and I think I’m ready.”
In addition to Goodpaster, Ehlers said he will rely heavily on defensive ends Terrance Carter, Jesse Nading, Bob Vomhof and Michael Leiter – five players who Ehlers said will receive the majority of the playing time. At nose tackle, Ehlers said he expects great seasons from Chris Kiffin and Jonathon Simon, who is a first-year starter but a fifth-year senior. At defensive tackle, Ehlers praised redshirt freshman Blake Smith, who he said is having “a hell of a camp.” Other players who Ehlers hopes to get significant contributions from include Erik Sandie, Steve Olech and Cleodis Floyd.
According to Ehlers, Goodpaster will be expected to be a veteran leader among this season’s young and inexperienced defensive line. Goodpaster is one of only a few defensive linemen who have received substantial playing time during the last several seasons.
“We haven’t played a lot,” Ehlers said. “Pat Goodpaster is the only guy that’s played (significant minutes), and Chris Kiffin has played quite a bit. Other than that, we don’t have anybody who’s ever been a starter or played (a significant number of minutes). So obviously we got to grow fast”
Although Ehlers said his defensive line may initially be hindered by its own inexperience, he is quick to praise the players’ strong efforts and desire to improve.
“(The defensive line) seems to be playing with a little more aggressiveness than even last year’s guys,” Ehlers said. “Our guys haven’t started a lot, but they’re going like hell.”
CSU will have its first opportunity to test the young defensive line during the season opener against the Colorado Buffaloes on Sept. 4 at Folsom Field in Boulder. The team will be trying to stop a CU offense that is powered by senior tailback Bobby Purify and junior quarterback Joel Klatt, who threw for 2,614 yards last season.