By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Hays Daily News
Bill Snyder came to the defense of his embattled place-kicker on Monday, though he stopped short of naming Jack Cantele his starter for Saturday's home game against Texas-El Paso.
Cantele had a rough night Thursday, missing three field goals in Kansas State's 20-14 loss to Auburn, and the next day he took responsibility on his Twitter account.
"At the end of the day if it had to happen to someone, I'm glad it was me and not any of my teammates. I can handle it & we will get better," Cantele wrote, prompting a vote of confidence from Snyder during the Big 12 coaches' teleconference.
"We're all behind him; everybody supports him," said Snyder, who immediately following the game suggested that at least two of the snaps and holds were less than perfect on the kicks of 41, 42 and 22 yards, all of which missed wide and could have tied the game at the time. "I applaud him.
"He stepped up and took his shots and defended his teammates and accepted the responsibility. I just admire his fortitude."
Besides, Snyder said, there were plenty of miscues to go around in a game where three turnovers led directly to two Auburn field goals and took away a Wildcat scoring opportunity on a dropped end zone pass for an interception.
"We all make mistakes," Snyder said. "I made more than he did, I assure you of that.
"It's just how we respond to it. He's a strong-minded young guy and he'll come back and continue to be a good player for us."
Cantele, a junior from Wichita, was good on 11 of 13 field goal attempts last year, including the 41-yard game winner against TCU with three seconds left. He beat out redshirt freshman Matthew McCrane for the field goal and extra point job in preseason.
Though, McCrane kicked the Wildcats' final point after in the fourth quarter.
Asked Monday if Cantele was still the No. 1 place-kicker this week, Snyder hinted that he was.
"He's our kicker," he said. "It's always competitive, sure, and it'll remain competitive throughout the course of the week, but it is every week.
"It was last week and it was the week before."
Cantele's teammates also stood behind him following the Auburn game.
"It happens," said wide receiver Tyler Lockett, whose dropped ball in the end zone was intercepted in the opening quarter. "I can go to him, talk to him about some of the things I did in the game.
"Just going to talk to him, 'Keep your head up.' I don't think things can get any worse than this."
Running back DeMarcus Robinson, who scored the Wildcats' first touchdown, said nobody blamed Cantele during or after the game.
"Missed field goals, missed tackles, dropped balls, they're all the same thing.
"We all just talked about coming in Saturday and correcting our mistakes."
Big 12 honors KSU LB Johnson
K-State senior linebacker Dakorey Johnson, who made his first career start against Auburn, was named Big 12 defensive player of the week Monday after recording six tackles, two for loss, with an interception and a pass breakup.
"It doesn't surprise me one bit when Dakorey makes big plays because I know what he's capable of and I'm just glad he played well," fellow linebacker Jonathan Truman said of Johnson, who played primarily on special teams last year after transferring from Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College. "Dakorey's a playmaker and he's a smart guy.
"He knows what to do on the field."
Oklahoma picked up the other awards with running back Samaje Perine chosen offensive player of the week and kick returner Alex Ross named special teams player.
KSU, Tech to play under the lights
The Big 12 announced start times for its Oct. 4 games Monday and K-State will play host to Texas Tech at 6 p.m. with the game seen on ESPNU.
Kansas will travel to West Virginia for a 3 p.m. game on Fox SportsNet.