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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Football

UH kicker Hogan relishes pressure position on special teams


Last season, kicker Matt Hogan was the Cougars' second-leading scorer with 74 points through his field goals. Hogan hopes to put many more through the uprights this season. | Daily Cougar File Photo

When the Cougars come charging onto the field Saturday to battle Texas State in their season opener, look somewhere in the back and you might see kicker Matt Hogan jogging onto the field unaware of the hubbub around him.

“I have to be really laid back and relaxed to kick,” Hogan said. “Everybody is getting pumped up and I’m listening to my country music, just hanging out. Everybody’s getting all riled up before the game and jumping up and down and I’m in the back, just hanging out.

“Most people, you can’t be too wound up because if you’re thinking too much, it’s not going to go your way.”

Hogan’s approach and confidence have a lot to do with his preparation and dedication to improving his game. Every summer since his sophomore year at Keller High School, Hogan has trained with former Texas Tech kicker John Weaver, who he met at a kicking competition.

Weaver said that he decided to take Hogan on because of the way that Hogan approached kicking in contrast to other kickers. The main difference was Hogan’s positive attitude.

“His dad gave him my number and he called me. He asked, ‘Hey what will make me better?’” Weaver said.

“It had to do with work ethic. At the time I was coaching a kid who I had made. I showed him how to do everything and he wasn’t appreciative. Matt was the complete opposite. He had a lot of talent and just needed a few things that he could learn from someone who had kicked a little. He’s been really appreciative.”

When Weaver left Texas for the mountains of Colorado, Hogan followed and spent this past July training with him to prepare for the season doing everything from running sprints to kicking into the uprights from one yard deep.

“He’s made everything. He doesn’t make everything at my camp because I wear him down,” Weaver said.

Hogan only became a kicker full-time after tearing his ACL in eighth grade and had to sit out his freshman year of high school.

“I still wanted to play football and when I was a sophomore, my mom was like, ‘No, you’re done. All you’re doing is kicking.”

Hogan’s love of football comes from his family. His father played at the University of Illinois and both his uncle and grandfather played for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Although Hogan does not have a large stature, he wanted to continue his family’s tradition of playing football.

“I just wanted to be like them,” Hogan said. “I mean, I’m not built like my dad. My dad was a nose tackle, but I wanted to stay with my football roots. I’m built more like one of my uncles who was a different size; he was a swimmer. I still wanted to play football.”

Hogan likens his job as a kicker to that of a pitcher in baseball because it is a “specialty” and you “can only do so much.” Despite not being involved physically in every play on the field, Hogan still manages to keep his head in the game.

“I stay focused by watching the game, knowing the yardages, knowing when I’m going to go out. I try to keep a positive attitude, joke around with some friends, keep a light head. I don’t want to get too tight and wound up, start thinking too much.”

When he goes out to kick, he is only focused on the task at hand and not about the situation or circumstances of the kick.

“I got to make this kick. No matter the difference between a 60-yarder and an extra point, I got to make everything. That’s my mindset,” Hogan said.

Hogan might not always participate in the pregame and on-field excitement, but he sure does know how to create it. After beating out the other kickers in practice to earn the job of being the starting kicker just three weeks earlier, Hogan nailed a 51-yard kick as time expired to give the Cougars a 46-45 victory over Tulsa last season.

“He wanted a long kick,” Weaver said. “He wanted a long field goal. Most kickers kind of want it, but Matt wants a 50 or 60-yard kick. I have never had any doubts as far as how well he will do.”

Hogan feels like between the coaches and city atmosphere, he made the right choice by becoming a Cougar. Hogan is athletic enough that he could have caught on as a receiver at a Division-II or III school, or even as a soccer player, but kicking is what he excels at and he is happier about the convenience of living in a city than a small college town.

“I’m in the city now,” Hogan said. “I used to be just in the suburbs and now I can go downtown and do stuff. I can go to the Astros game, that’s five minutes away, instead of forty-five minutes to see a Rangers game. I like the downtown atmosphere. It’s not a secluded college town.”

“I love the coaches and all the people here. There’s a whole different aspect to driving. It’s just a whole different lifestyle.”

Hogan comes into this season having made all 12 of his career field goal attempts — one away from tying Roman Anderson’s school record of consecutive field goals made.

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