Jack Cantele is the starting kicker for the Kansas State Wildcats. And he’s a phenomenal golfer. These are things we were safe in proclaiming four months ago, and not much has changed since this time. Yet according some covering the team, he’s already breaking out in what should be a phenomenal year. I would not be surprised in the least if this happened, but two games into the season we lack any evidence to back up the claim.
I bring this up because Ken Corbitt at the Topeka Capital-Journal published an article yesterday professing a suddenly discovered love of “surprise” kicker Jack Cantele. The call for Cantele to win the job was described as “surprising” in one sentence in the article, while later transitioning to a discussion of how successful his debut against North Dakota State was. Two problems with this: first, Cantele had the job the day after his older brother Anthony launched his last kick off against Oregon; and secondly he hasn’t done anything to really impress me thus far.
Cantele was the kid kicking field goals during the spring game. Bill Snyder spoke very tongue-in-cheek about Cantele keeping his scholarship after the game following a 51-yard field goal in the game. It was his position to lose. Yet when the depth chart was released the Tuesday before the NDSU game, two kickers were listed with the word ‘or’ placed on the chart. This was ridiculous – Cantele may have been replaced if he underperformed during the game, but no one will hold their job if coaches believe someone else can do it better. And sure enough, Cantele handled every kick that night despite the media’s rumors that there could be a position battle brewing (hang in there – this rant is halfway home).
I believe in Cantele. And I get to – I’m just a guy that posts random thoughts on the internet while watching It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia to unwind after working all day. But Corbitt actually does this as a job, and he’s suddenly a convert to how well Cantele has performed. Personally, the only the first two games have done is sow doubt in my mind. Cantele was able to secure two touchbacks out of his four kick offs against NDSU, but that doesn’t qualify as an exemplary game. He didn’t attempt a single field goal. And against Louisiana Lafayette he had two – both less than 30 yards.
Jack Cantele’s older brother, Anthony, didn’t do much from long distance for K-State. Part of the reason was that he didn’t have to – the Wildcats didn’t get stopped at the 30-yard line very often last year. But I always questioned his distance a bit. Its remains something to explore.
To start off the game against Lafayette, Jack Cantele’s kick went 59 yards, and was fielded at the six yard line. His other kick-offs:
- 65 yards for touchback
- 65 yards for touchback
- 55 yards to the ten, returned to the 26
- 51 yards to the 14, returned to the 19
- 63 yards, downed at the two
- 65 yards, returned for a touchdown
- 46 yards to the 19, returned to the 20
- 65 yards to the end zone, returned to the 13
That’s a solid body of work, and aside from the breakdown in coverage that allowed the touchdown, I’ll take it any day of the week. However, we still don’t know about his field goal kicking acumen. Cantele hit on attempts of 27 and 29 yards, and those are the only kicks he’s made this year. There wasn’t a good opportunity to attempt a longer kick against Lafayette, but the NDSU game had multiple opportunities Snyder felt uncomfortable taking.
At the beginning of the second quarter, K-State opted to go for the conversion on fourth and three at its opponents’ 26. Jake Waters ran for one yard, and the Wildcats turned the ball over on downs. K-State was down 7-0 at that point, and I understand the desire to go for a touchdown and tie the game, but with 45 minutes to go the sense of urgency was a bit premature. Then, with a 21-17 lead in the fourth and fourth and seven at the NDSU 27, there’s no reason to not have the field goal team primed to good and ready to make the game a touchdown lead. Didn’t happen, and the drive ended in a punt. North Dakota State proceeded to go on an 8:30 touchdown drive and you know how the story ends.
Why wasn’t Cantele kicking field goals when the opportunities presented themselves? Maybe it was strategy. And maybe there’s not enough trust in him to have Cantele to have him attempting kicks beyond 35 yards. He hit one beyond 50 in the spring game, so I’m not sure what’s going on – this team was universally acknowledged as having been outcoached its first game. There are still a lot of questions to be answered once conference play starts. Cantele’s ability, for whatever reason, is one of them.