Sunday, July 12, 2020

Matt Coghlin goes from unlucky performance, to starring in the spotlight

November 6, 2017
Redshirt freshman kicker Matt Coghlin (4) kicks the game winning field goal during the game against Penn State, on Nov. 4, 2017, at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Nittany Lions, 27-24.
Redshirt freshman kicker Matt Coghlin (4) kicks the game winning field goal during the game against Penn State, on Nov. 4, 2017, at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Nittany Lions, 27-24. —
Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

Last week, Matt Coghlin went 1-for-3 last week against Northwestern, with both missed field goals hitting the uprights, leaving crucial points on the board late in the game.

Jump forward seven days to Saturday night and Coghlin is surrounded by his teammates after hitting a 32-yard field goal to tie it up 24-24, and hitting a 34-yard field goal as time expired to beat No. 7 Penn State, 27-24, and bring the Land-Grant Trophy back to East Lansing.

“I still haven’t had that much time to take in this moment,” Coghlin said after Saturday’s win. “I’m just extremely blessed and happy right now.”

But before Coghlin’s game-winning field goal, Mark Dantonio gave his field goal kicker a paper with a prayer on it, which former Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins knew back in 2010. Psalm 91:13 to be precise.

“It said, ‘Tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion,’” Dantonio said. “And that’s what it said.”

Dantonio said the paper with Psalm 91:13 is “his big moment” which resides in his pocket, for the most part at least.

“I just gave it to him and said ‘Take it easy. Don’t worry about it,” Dantonio said. “I said ‘Don’t worry about it. No stress. Kick the ball through, back through.’”

Coghlin said the prayer card gave him confidence and showed him that Dantonio had confidence in him to make the kick.

But Dantonio wasn’t the only that believed in Coghlin. Hell, some of his teammates didn’t even watch Coghlin attempt the kick.

“I knew it was good, I ain’t even look,” wide receiver Felton Davis III said.  

This confidence comes from others on the team as well, linebacker Chris Frey witnessed Michael Geiger two years ago kick the game-winning field goal against Ohio State.

“We always tell him he’s got ice in his veins,” Frey said. “I knew when he was going out on that field, that we were going to make that field goal, we were going to win that game.”

Frey said in a situation like a game-winning field goal, everybody links arms together and gets “ready to celebrate.”

“We have full faith and trust in Matt Coghlin’s ability, and it was a perfect spot for him to hit that,” Frey said. “I don’t know what runs through my mind, just celebrate with my teammates. It’s an exciting moment.”

These type of moments can be prevented or nullified by lingering thoughts of previous moments that weren’t as exciting or positive, such as missing two field goals last week against Northwestern.

That’s not the case for Coghlin, who said he already forgot about last week’s performance against the Wildcats.

“Just started over and preparing to go 1-0 every week, you know just trying to keep everything the same,” Coghlin said. “I think we did that and we just had a great week of practice and came out and performed, even with some difficult circumstances.”

With this, Coghlin said he can’t live on the high of this week’s performance for much longer, and needs to focus for future opponents.

“I just go week-to-week, new start to a fresh week, even after today I got to start next,” Coghlin said. “It’s a good bounce back week this week.”

But still, with a bounce back performance like this, Coghlin’s teammates believe putting Coghlin out there to nail a game-tying and game-winning field goal against the No. 7 team in the country, is a show of confidence not only from his teammates, but from himself.

“When we put him out there, we know he’s going to make the kick,” wide receiver Cody White said. “It just shows that he’s got confidence in himself and we have confidence in himself as well.”

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