Michigan State's kicking woes surface again in loss to Ohio State
Columbus, Ohio — A year ago, Matt Coghlin was a first-team All-Big Ten kicker.
As a sophomore, Coghlin was 18-for-22 on field-goal attempts with a long of 49 yards, backing up a solid freshman season when he made 15 of 19 field goals for a Michigan State team that won 10 games.
And through the first two weeks this season, it looked like Coghlin was going to keep on rolling, making his first seven field goals — four in the opener against Tulsa and three more the next week in a win over Western Michigan.
In Week 3, though, things started to crumble for Coghlin as he missed all three of his attempts, his only make getting wiped out because the Spartans had too many men on the field. He went 3-for-5 in wins over Northwestern and Indiana before nailing his first on Saturday at Ohio State, a 39-yarder in the second quarter.
But his woes caught up to him again early in the second half as Michigan State looked like it was scrapping its way back into the game. That’s when Coghlin missed wide left from 27 yards, erasing any momentum the Spartans had started to build before Ohio State pulled away for the 34-10 win.
“I thought they got pressure,” Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. “I mean, the guy ran right up the middle on them. … We’ve got to protect better. He ran through twice, one time we made it and one time we didn't. And we're trying to fix. So we have to look at that, see what happened.”
The guy running through was Ohio State’s Chase Young. And as Dantonio said, on both of Coghlin’s kicks, Young flew threw the middle of the line with virtually no resistance, likely affecting the Michigan State kicker.
Sophomore Cole Hahn handles kickoffs and sophomore Tyler Hunt can kick and punt and is the holder on field goals, but even with Coghlin now 11-for-17 on the season, Dantonio said he has no plans to make a change at kicker.
“I'm gonna stay with him,” Dantonio said. “He's shown he's a first-team all-conference kicker last year, so we'll stay with them. You gotta give them confidence. You can't tear him down. And then at that point in time, somebody else has to become the kicker. So nobody has proven themselves to that extent.”
No line changes
For the first time in quite a while, Michigan State went with the same five offensive linemen for the entire game. Of course, one of the main reasons is the Spartans are battling their share of injuries up front, meaning most of the depth is young and inexperienced.
With tackles Cole Chewins and AJ Arcuri out as well as Kevin Jarvis — a guard who’s been playing tackle — and the versatile Blake Bueter both banged up, there aren’t many options after the five current starters.
Dantonio could opt to bite the bullet and commit to freshmen Devontae Dobbs, Nick Samac and J.D. Duplain — all three of whom are running with the second team — but to do that means almost certainly taking away their redshirt. It’s a move the head coach isn’t quite ready to make.
“We don't really want to burn a redshirt if the guy is going to play a couple plays,” Dantonio said. “We’ve really got three freshmen, three true freshmen, with the twos right now and we have five offensive linemen out for this game.
“As we go forward, if a guy's gonna play 15 plays or 20 plays we'll do that, but I don’t want to put the guy in for a couple plays.”
Notables who did not make the trip include cornerback Shakur Brown as well as offensive linemen Blake Bueter, Kevin Jarvis and AJ Arcuri.
Brown has not played since the first game of the season because of an undisclosed injury. Bueter was knocked out last week while Jarvis was injured late in the first half against Arizona State and has now missed three straight games. Arcuri, who was supposed to back up left tackle Cole Chewins, saw only limited time on special teams early in the season but has been out the last three games.
… Dantonio did not have an update on junior defensive end Jacub Panasiuk, who was injured in the second half and did not return.