Sept. 22, 2013
By Steve Grinczel, MSUSpartans.com Online Columnist | @GrinzOnGreen
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The last field goal Michael Geiger made before joining the Michigan State football team came before about 5,000 fans in a Ohio high school all-star game in April.
His first as a Spartan came in front of a slightly bigger crowd - 80,795 to be exact - in iconic Notre Dame Stadium, with a national television audience also looking on. It covered 25 yards and tied the score at 10-10 in the third quarter.
"It's almost like you're not thinking, you're not conscious," Geiger said of his debut. "I tried to focus on what I had to do. I knew the snap and hold would be there, and so I was just focused on splitting the pipes."
The true freshman increased his career-long to 42 yards in the fourth quarter with a kick that just barely cleared the crossbar.
"It was difficult," Geiger said. "I was looking up at the student section and it was my first time kicking towards them. I was definitely excited for the opportunity and I knew I had the leg for 42 into the wind. It was pretty close, and I didn't hit my best ball, but I was confident in what I was doing."
While Geiger couldn't prevent a 17-13 loss Saturday evening, he took a big step toward all but securing MSU's place-kicking duties through the 2016 season.
Coach Mark Dantonio called on Geiger after senior Kevin Muma, who won the job in preseason camp, was wide left from 30 yards in the first quarter. It was the second field goal Muma missed in his last four attempts.
Geiger took the field for the first time to kick the extra point after Michigan State touchdown in the second quarter, for a 7-3 lead.
"I come in with the mentality that I'm going to take advantage of every opportunity I get, so I prepare like I'm going to play," Geiger said. "After Muma missed the kick, we had a little discussion with Coach D and I knew from that point forward I had to seize this opportunity.
"This was definitely an incredible atmosphere to play my first game in, and I'm thankful to come away with two field goals."
Although playing Geiger means he will not be able to redshirt this season, Dantonio recruited the nation's top-rated prep kicker with the intent of using him all along until Muma came on strong during preseason camp.
"Muma had a solid first week of camp even though maybe he wasn't getting as much notice," Geiger said. "They just felt that he was doing well enough that if they could preserve a year to elongate my career, they would. I'm just thankful the opportunity arose today."
The pressure situations Dantonio put Geiger through during camp "stunned" him at first, but the experience paid off on one of the country's biggest stages, and apparently in games to come.
"You don't put him in against Notre Dame unless he is the kicker," Dantonio said. "Took the redshirt off him, he's the kicker. He showed great promise throughout summer camp. Obviously, he wasn't perfect in that, but it's his time now. He needs to grow up quick."