OU players defend 'Moneycutt'

Sooners' kicker not at fault for loss according to teammates

Immediately after Oklahoma’s loss Saturday to Kansas State, Sooners’ cornerback Zack Sanchez went looking for Michael Hunnicutt.

Sanchez, who has had his share of less-than-memorable games, knew what was coming.

Sanchez found Hunnicutt to share a few words with him. Linebacker Geneo Grissom gave him a hug.

After missing three kicks, two of which were from the distance of an extra point, Hunnicutt’s teammates came running to defend him and explain that the loss wasn’t on him.

“Things like that happen, but I would be the last to point a finger at Michael Hunnicutt for this loss,” Sanchez said. “Defensively, we could've done a lot more.”

“There’s a lot of other people and plays that we could have made out there,” tight end Blake Bell said.

“You can blame it on me throwing the pick-six,” quarterback Trevor Knight said. “You can blame it on anybody.”

One of those players you can blame for Saturday’s loss is Hunnicutt, though. Earlier this season, he made the point of saying that kickers are only remembered for their failures when discussing his predecessors.

Of all people, he knows that he needed to and should have made those field goals. His teammates said that he is as hard on himself as any of the coaches or players.

Nobody will forget Saturday, but it’s important to notice how incredibly different it was from the trend Hunnicutt has developed during the past four years.

Hunnicutt, who has missed two field goals in one game only once before in the sixth game of his career, hasn’t missed a field goal in consecutive games in almost two years. He missed as many kicks Saturday as he did all of last season.

“He’s a tough kid. He’s not going to pay too much attention to it,” Grissom said of the doubters. “He knows his ability. He knows what he is capable of. He’s done it year in and year out. It’s just a matter of getting back at it on Monday.”

The psyche of a kicker is a fragile one. Like Hunnicutt referenced weeks ago, nobody congratulates a kicker. Most only admonish him.

It takes a though skin and a unique personality to handle the pressure of the position.

“He's an All-American kicker, leads the school in points scored, so it was kind of a freak day for him,” Sanchez said. “You get a field goal blocked, and I think that kind of messes with your head as a kicker. You want to rush things.”

Hunnicutt missed a field goal just before halftime, leaving the Sooners (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) trailing by four points. With a chance to tie the game, Hunnicutt had a chance at semi-redemption – because nobody would have considered the extra point after a Knight touchdown pass to be a chance for ‘Moneycutt’ to miss.

Kansas State’s Travis Britz snuck through the middle of the line and got his hand on Hunnicutt’s short attempt.

Less than seven minutes later, he was back at that same spot – actually just a few feet to the right. He pushed the potential game-winning field goal to the left, maybe in an effort to hurry the kick or lift it higher over the line.

The end result was the same no matter the reason as Oklahoma all but fell out of the college football playoff discussion with its second loss. Some people might blame Hunnicutt for the worst game of his career.

His teammates won’t.

“He’s gonna be in the spotlight, but it’s definitely not his fault,” Knight said. “. . . You can’t point the finger at Michael. It’s a combination of a bunch of different things going on, on just the wrong side of the line. He needs to remain confident because he’s the best in the business.”

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