Carona's missed PATs worry Tech teammates

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The recent slump by Texas Tech freshman kicker Donnie Carona is becoming a concern for his teammates.

Carona had an extra point blocked in overtime that provided Nebraska with a potential opening to win the game after the Red Raiders had gone ahead. But cornerback Jamar Wall produced a game-clinching interception that sealed the Red Raiders' 37-31 victory.

"We've been supporting him the whole time, but it gets down to support or tough love," Texas Tech center Stephen Hamby said. "It's frustrating when you play your heart out and that kind of thing happens."

Earlier, Carona had a fourth-quarter point-after attempt ricochet off the left upright before falling through. He has converted 33 of 37 extra points (89.2 percent), lowest percentage for any regular kicker in the Big 12. He's also hit three of seven field goals with two attempts blocked, although he has converted his last two attempts.

Carona is the first scholarship kicker in Coach Mike Leach's coaching tenure. He won the job in fall camp by beating out Cory Fowler.

"He's a young kid and it's tough for a true freshman to step into this," Texas Tech wide receiver Eric Morris said. "We've been supportive, but now after six games he's been here long enough realize that he needs to step up and make kicks. I'm confident he'll be able to do that."

Tech coach Mike Leach told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal after the Nebraska game that he might open the job because of Carona's recent struggles.

"We're concerned," Leach told the newspaper. "I thought the kickoffs he did good. The extra points, some of them (were) ugly. He was probably trying to make too much happen. We may look at Fowler and see how that works out."