East Lansing — By his best guess, Matt Coghlin has never gone more than a game without attempting a field goal.
Well, the redshirt freshman is two games into his Michigan State career and is still waiting for the first shot at getting three points for the Spartans.
But as long as Michigan State is scoring touchdowns and he’s busy kicking extra points, that’s just fine, too.
“I didn’t really know what to expect (to start the season), but as long as we’re winning, extra points are good if that’s good enough," Coghlin said. "But it’s been weird. I don’t think in high school I went two games without attempting a field goal.”
That is sure to end soon, and the longer it goes without an attempt the bigger the moment will become. It might even happen Saturday when Michigan State hosts Notre Dame at 8 p.m. (FOX/WJR 760) in a series that has seen its share of big kicks.
And while Coghlin is happy to kick extra points — he’s made all nine he’s attempted through the first two games — he is open to his first field goal attempt coming when the game is on the line.
“I think there will be some pressure, but pressure is a good thing,” Coghlin said. “It's a blessing if I'm in that situation. You've just got to trust and believe in yourself.”
Coghlin isn’t lacking any belief or confidence in himself, something he built during his prep career at Archbishop Moeller in Cincinnati. He made three field goals of 40 yards or more as a senior and finished his career eighth in all-time scoring in Ohio with 233 points.
He was ranked the No. 7 kicker in the nation by Scout.com following his senior season and committed to Michigan State, where he redshirted and spent the 2016 season learning from Michael Geiger, the second-leading scorer in Michigan State history.
“Geiger was a big role model for me, just calming me down,” Coghlin said.
The advice from Geiger surely helped Coghlin win the kicking job in preseason camp over freshman Cole Hahn, fifth-year senior Brett Scanlon and freshman Jack McKenna. And now that he is the No. 1 kicker, Coghlin said he still hears from Geiger on a regular basis as his former teammate is offering plenty of encouragement, something that could come in handy for that first field-goal attempt.
To that end, the Spartans are doing what they can to keep Coghlin prepared.
“We try and keep the pressure on him in practice, and he's done well in practice,” coach Mark Dantonio said, “but it's not like the chip shot I was talking about in front of 80,000 (fans).”
There’s no doubt that moment will be unlike anything Coghlin has ever experienced before. Dantonio understands that, something he realized back in 2010 against Notre Dame when, instead of having Dan Conroy kick a 40-plus yard field goal in overtime, he called for a fake.
It paid off and Michigan State won in dramatic fashion, but Dantonio made the call as much because he didn’t want to put the game on the shoulders of a young kicker who had little experience at that point.
Whether that sort of situation arises with Coghlin is hard to predict, but Dantonio believes Coghlin will be ready for the moment.
“He's confident and I think he's doing a great job right now, and every kick he's hit, he's hit with balls popping and he's hitting good,” Dantonio said. “I guess we just have to wait our turn.”
Notre Dame at Michigan State
Kickoff: 8 p.m. Saturday, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
TV/radio: FOX/WJR 760
Records: Notre Dame 2-1, Michigan State 2-0
Line: Notre Dame by 4.5