Hey no pressure, but a lot rides on this

ANDREW FURNEY was the exception. The former Cougar kicker, even on pressure packed field goal attempts, was often seen grinning as he ran onto the field, relishing every opportunity. Other kickers in similar situations usually look like they’re about to lose their lunch. Which brings us to the question: How will kicker Matt Abramo fare in his first season at Washington State?

Field goal attempts on Saturdays were met by failure nearly 30 percent of the time in 2014 - the conversion rate in college football last season was 72 percent.

But if Abramo (pictured above) out of Petaluma, Calif., has the mental makeup of a Furney or a Roberto Aguayo, the Cougs should be in pretty good shape. Aguayo has made 48 of 52 field goals in his career at FSU and all 149 of his extra points.

"It's all inside here," Aguayo told USA Today last season, pointing to his head. "Anybody can kick far, anybody can have a strong leg. But if you can't manage it in games, you're not worth anything."

Indeed, many argue the mental aspect (read: confidence) is the most important part of the equation when it comes to making field goals.

Abramo may be trending up in that regard. His sophomore season at Casa Grande High he was one of three on field goal attempts, then 10 of 16 as a junior. As a senior, he was 10 of 12.

While Abramo is the first scholarship placekicker Leach has signed since his arrival at WSU, the job of course won’t just be handed to him this fall. He’ll have to beat out Erik Powell, Quentin Breshears and others, including some intriguing new walk ons in Zach Charme and Brett Schafer.

And after the Cougs struggled last year in connecting on 11 of 17 tries (65 percent) the guy who wants the ball on his foot with the game on the line, like Furney did, figures to win the job at the end of fall ball.

In concert with the mental game, a repeatable technique counts, something that will stand up to pressure. So does recruiting.

Kicking guru Chris Sailer in the same USA Today article says most schools don't have coaches on staff who specialize in kicking technique, which means often they don't know what to look for. Not so with WSU special teams coach Eric Mele. Specifically with regard to kicking technique, one of Mele's players at Wingate missed just one field goal his entire senior season and went on to play professionally. (Mele, who has eight years of special teams coaching experience under his belt, also coached an all-conference punter).

And here’s a crazy thought: if the 2015 Cougs have a kicker who can make ‘em, maybe Mike Leach doesn’t need to go for it on fourth down as much inside the 30-yard line … and more points go up on the scoreboard in the end.

NOTABLE NOTE:
Leach in his first season at WSU did bring on JUCO specialist Mike Bowlin but Bowlin never attempted a field goal in his two seasons at Washington State, serving primarily as WSU's punter on kickoffs.

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