Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter didn't want to trot out his true freshman kicker in such a pressure situation.
Had the Bulldogs had somone more experienced — maybe even a player on scholarship -- they might have attempted a 35-yard field goal in overtime last week that could have helped prevent an eventual 30-27 upset loss at UNLV.
But the abrupt departure of scholarship kicker Colin McGuire one game into the season continues to affect how the Bulldogs handle playcalling inside the opponent's 25, with Fresno State now counting on walk-on Kody Kroening.
"We're happy that we have Kody, but we don't want to put him in some situations that his probability (for success) might not be as high as we'd like it to be," DeRuyter said. "It's difficult. But it's something we have to navigate.
"We've got to finish drives more. We've got to do a better job defensively and not let people in tight games or (let) it go into overtime."
Fresno State has been satisfied with Kroening's production so far, though the coaching staff would like more consistency and for him to work on getting a higher trajectory. Fresno State did hold an open tryout late last month, but didn't find any new walk-on candidates.
For the season, Kroening has made 2 of 4 field goals, converting from 27 and 37 yards and missing from 30 and 38. He is 24 of 25 on extra points, though the miss came during the UNLV game and influenced DeRuyter's decision to bypass the field goal attempt in overtime. Kroening also had a PAT partially tipped earlier in the game.
Fresno State instead gambled on fourth-and-3, failed on an incomplete pass near the end zone, and UNLV kicked a 33-yard field goal on its possession to win the game.
DeRuyter withheld Kroening from conducting an interview this week. Special-teams coordinator Pete Germano said Kroening just needs to keep working.
"He's trying as hard as he can," Germano said. "We're just trying to get him in a position where he can be successful about 80 to 90% on his attempts. It's about tempo, it's about confidence, it's about the rhythm. He was off rhythm on that one miss. He pulled it. But we'll continue to work on it."
Kroening, who played football and soccer at Valley Christian High-San Jose, has shown he can hit from 45-plus yards during pregame warm-ups. But as DeRuyter quickly pointed out, practice is quite different from an actual game.
"Have you seen me on the driving range?" DeRuyter said. "I can slam them right down. But then you put a lake on this side and trees on this side, there's other factors that come into play. There's the snap, the hold, the whole thing together.
"It's very difficult. Up in the stands or on the sideline, it looks like it's easy. It's a tough job."