Kicker Michael Geiger welcomed the opportunities to snap out of a recent slump, getting four kicks in the first half – the first three of which he converted.
“Undoubtedly they felt great,” he said. “I felt like it’s been a long time coming since I’ve been able to really stroke three like that. I think it’s been a testament to the guys sticking behind me and coach (Mark Dantonio) having faith in me and just me working hard and trying to put the pressure on me to work hard.”
The sophomore kicker had been stuck in a stretch in which he missed kicks in five straight games. While the streak reached six when his 47-yard attempt fell short in the second quarter, it was more about the three that he knocked through from 22, 34 and 35 yards.
”I think his kicks tonight were great for his confidence,” Dantonio said. “Obviously, we would have liked to see him make the 47-yarder, but it’s great to see him kick three in a row. He’s a very sure-minded guy, he’s got a lot of confidence and he’s just got to keep kicking.”
Geiger had missed four kicks in a row until he hit a 40-yarder against Ohio State last weekend. Sitting just 8 of 14 on field-goal attempts this season after going 15 of 16 as a freshman, Geiger said he didn’t waver.
“Mentally, I knew that I was there,” he said. “The misses were only a yard here or there. …
”I never considered it a slump. Obviously, you’re frustrated but when you’re a kicker, you’ve gotta keep your confidence up and you’ve gotta go to every practice thinking you’re going to make every kick. Really just sticking to what I was doing and having faith in what I’ve been taught and what I’ve practiced my whole life.”
The kicker studied film to find mistakes, while focusing on getting back to basics.
“Kicking is such a refined thing,” he said. “I really just went back to basics and tried to pick out any bad habits on film and any inconsistencies between extra points and field goals or trying to maybe over kick on longer kicks is something I was trying to look at. Really just back to basics, simplifying everything.”
In practice, Dantonio added “surprise kicks” and put pressure on the situation by putting extra running on the line. It paid off Saturday, as Geiger was the main scoring source in the first half for the Spartans.
”Coach D always has had confidence in me and I respect that,” Geiger said. “I was glad I could help the team today.”