MSU kicker Matt Coghlin 'never thought' of breaking school record
Against Northwestern last season, Michigan State kicker Matt Coghlin had a rough day.
The sophomore missed two of his three field goal tries. The first, a 51-yarder that would've put the Spartans up 13-10 with 6:16 left in the third quarter, and then a 32-yarder that would've narrowed the Wildcats’ lead to 17-13 with 6:04 left in the fourth quarter. The Spartans eventually lost 39-31 in triple overtime.
Almost one year later in front of 72,850 fans at Spartan Stadium for homecoming, Coghlin hit a 25-yarder to make his 16th-straight field goal. The kick broke the MSU record for consecutive field goals made, previously held by kicker Brett Swenson when he kicked 15-straight field goals in 2008.
“(It’s) kind of crazy, because I never really thought of breaking any records or anything,” Coghlin said after practice Tuesday. “(I was) just trying to take it one kick at a time.”
Though MSU (3-2, 1-1 in Big Ten) fell 29-19 against Northwestern last Saturday, offensive tackle Cole Chewins said he was “very happy” for “a great guy” like Coghlin to break a record.
“We have all the trust and faith of him in the world that he’s gonna do his part for this team,” Chewins said. “It’s kind of hard not to love the kid when he’s running around doing penguin slides. I mean he’s a great personality and great teammate, and we love him for that.”
Coghlin said he’s been working on consistency since his 1-for-3 performance against the Wildcats in 2017, which in turn has improved his confidence and has helped the sophomore convert 8-of-8 field goal attempts this season.
“To see them go through, it (confidence) just keeps going up,” Coghlin said. “It’s getting to the point where I don’t feel like I’m gonna miss. And that’s the best feeling you can have as a kicker.”
Coach Mark Dantonio said he’s seen the confidence grow in Coghlin, who left his head coach “scratching (his) head” during the Cincinnati native’s true freshman season in 2016.
As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Dantonio said Coghlin won the starting job in fall camp and went on to have a “very good fall,” making 15-of-19 field goals and nailing his last eight.
"As a true freshman I was scratching my head a little bit when I was watching him kick down there when Mike Geiger was still kicking. And then as a redshirt freshman he was better, he won the job," Dantonio said in his weekly news conference Oct. 2.
Dantonio said Coghlin is more experienced and confident as the starting kicker for the Spartans.
“He understands the pressures involved in it and he’s been very good and so I think he understands what needs to happen,” Dantonio said. “He’s a competitive guy and he doesn’t back away from a challenge, so he’s been excellent.”
In fact, Dantonio’s trust in Coghlin has grown so much, the Spartans ran a trick play for him in their 35-21 win at Indiana Sept. 22.
A fake field-goal play called “Rocks,” which resulted in a 6-yard touchdown run — Coghlin's first touchdown since he was in third grade.
For now, Coghlin said he’s concentrating on facing No. 8 Penn State (4-1, 1-1 in Big Ten) Saturday in Beaver Stadium, and “blocking out all the noise,” per usual. Even noise coming from his teammates.
“With the touchdown, obviously (I) got a lot of jokes about that,” Coghlin said. “It’s just been fun.”