MANHATTAN — After two injury-plagued seasons, Kansas State kicker Matthew McCrane wants the chance to show off his leg with the deep ball.
His opportunity came early in the opening game when McCrane set up for a 50-yard field goal on K-State’s second possession. He missed, wide right.
“It was my first attempt since Iowa State last year so it had been quite a while,” McCrane said. “I thought I hit the ball well but I played the wind more than I should have. In pregame, most of my kicks were missing left because the wind was pretty brutal right to left so I aimed more right than I should have.”
Like getting thrown off a horse, kickers have to saddle back up. McCrane quickly got another chance and converted a 53-yard kick on the Wildcats’ next possession in their 55-19 win over Central Arkansas.
“That was a good feeling that coach (Bill Snyder) still trusted me to do it,” he said. “I wasn’t sure at the time if he was. They looked like they were going to put in the punt team but I went out there and said, ‘Give me another shot,’ and they did.
“I wanted a long one and got my opportunity the first time and failed, but you have to keep your confidence up. Sean (Snyder, special teams coordinator) told me to just kick the ball where you want it to go and don’t play the wind. That’s what I did on the 53. I played it true and, sure enough, it went in.
McCrane earned Freshman All-America honors in 2014 when he made 18 of 19 field goals, 2-for-2 from 50-plus yards, and 41 of 42 extra points. He injured his knee in the second game of 2015 at UTSA when he was hit on an extra point, and last year he injured his hip in Game 8 at Iowa State.
“The guy came off the edge on the extra point and took me out,” McCrane said of spraining his MCL in the UTSA game. “That was a six- to eight-week recovery and then I came back. Last season was my hip against Iowa State. It’s nothing too serious … nothing I could prevent, just normal injuries when you kick a lot.
“At Iowa State, Ian Patterson had kind of struggled after doing well in the past on kickoffs so I was thrown in there. It’s like a pitcher, who if he pitches too much he hurts his shoulder. I hadn’t really trained for kickoffs and it led to an injury. I learned to keep my leg conditioned for deep balls.”
In his final season with the No. 19 Wildcats, who play Charlotte at 11 a.m. Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, McCrane is looking to repeat the consistent success he had his freshman season.
“The injuries have been tough but every time I get injured I come right back so it’s not like they are prolonged,” he said. “It was very frustrating, especially with the goals I’ve had. It seems like my freshman year when I had the good year was such a long time ago. I come back and have a good start and get hurt and can’t finish out the season and come back and do well again, so it just seems to be off and on.
“My goal at the beginning of the year was to be 100 percent. I missed one, and now my goal is to be 100 percent the rest of the year. If you go into not thinking you’re going to be 100 percent, you’re in the wrong job because that’s what is expected of us.”
Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.