A confident kicker is a good kicker.
That might be the most important thing Matthew McCrane has learned during his brief time at Kansas State.
When the redshirt freshman opened the season behind Jack Cantele, his confidence level was low. He fully expected to be the backup and he battled negative thoughts during his first college kick, a late extra point against Auburn in relief of an infective Cantele. But once he watched that kick sail through the uprights, his confidence began to grow. Not surprisingly, he hasn’t missed since, connecting on six field goals and 20 extra points. See the connection?
“I would say my confidence level is high, but I have only had six (field-goal tries),” McCrane said. “I would like to get more kicks and push my confidence level even higher. The more kicks I get and the more kicks I make, the higher my confidence level will be.”
That is a promising thought for someone who has three years of kicks ahead of him.
Confidence is vital to McCrane. Whenever he lines up for a kick, he tries to visualize a successful field goal. He steps away from his holder, stares at a small spot between the uprights and imagines everything going perfectly. Then he tries to duplicate the vision.
“That is big for any kicker,” McCrane said. “You can’t have any doubt in your mind.”
At the moment, McCrane is doubt free. He is coming his finest game, making three field goals, including one from 38 yards, last week against Texas. After the successful outing, he was named one of three national “Stars of the Week” by the Lou Groza Award, sharing the honor with Clemson’s Ammon Lakip and TCU’s Jaden Oberkrom. He is one of two kickers in the Big 12 without a miss.
Few knew who McCrane was before Cantele missed three field-goal attempts against Auburn. But he has made an impression since.
“Everyone is confident in him,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “I don’t think anyone wasn’t. It’s easy to say the confidence has grown throughout the time he has been out there. We wouldn’t have put him out there if we didn’t have confidence in his capabilities. I look at him no differently than I did two games ago. He puts it through the uprights. That doesn’t mean he is going to be 100 percent his entire life, but he is doing well and we anticipated he would do well.”
Added linebacker Will Davis: “Matt has shown he can go out there and kick and be accurate. That is always a good thing.”
McCrane took an interesting route to K-State. Though the Wildcats thought enough of him to offer a scholarship, few other programs did the same. A native of Brownwood, Texas, he grew up a Longhorns fan. But Texas, along with every other in-state power, viewed him as nothing more than a walk-on candidate.
For a while, he thought he would end up at Air Force, the first Division I team to offer him a scholarship. Then K-State stepped in and he jumped at the chance to kick in the Big 12.
He has improved as a kicker ever since, adding muscle and leg strength to the accuracy he has always been known for.
His confidence has also skyrocketed. This is more than he expected.
“I am trying to take it all in,” McCrane said. “Like I said, I have only had six kicks. I don’t think that is a lot, based on what other kickers have done around the country. But the nerves have really gone down. I haven’t been nervous for any of my kicks. It is the same kick every time. As long as I can think that when I go through the kick process, I will do well.”