Connor Culp was pretty sure that last field goal attempt was good. In fact, he was more than sure.
“The last one went in,” he said post-game, “but it is what it is.”
While he’s never had that happen to him before, Culp didn’t make excuses for himself. He has a job to do and that “job is to put it right down the middle so that it’s not close or anything like that. That’s just on me.”
Culp went 0-for-3 against Buffalo on Saturday, missing from the 32, 42 and 34-yard lines. Coach Scott Frost said he wasn’t sure what exactly was going on with Culp “but he’ll get it fixed.
“I don’t want it to turn into a mental thing for him,” Frost continued. “He’s too talented.”
For those unsure of how it works, media can request players toward the end of each game to speak with afterward. Some are taken to the podium in the primary interview room, while others are taken to a side interview spot in the practice facility. Culp’s name was one of those requested.
He could have said no. People would have understood why the place kicker would have preferred not to have met with the media following that game, but Culp walked up the ramp to the practice facility and stood at a table in front of a dozen or so media members.
“You guys want to hear what’s happened during the game and what not and I would like to share and tell what’s going on and I’m going to keep my head high and keep moving forward,” Culp said. “That all kind of goes into the growth.”
That growth comes from his time at LSU. Culp faced a similar situation with the Tigers after a pretty good season. He converted 11 of 16 field goals and 20 of 23 extra points in 2017 before losing the job to Cole Tracy in 2018.
“I was a lot less mature and didn’t really know how to handle and how to push through situations like that,” Culp said. “Now I’ve looked back and come to peace with myself. Had a good season last year. It’s just another obstacle I’ll have to push through but now I actually know how to handle it and persevere.”
Culp thinks people have a tendency to make things a bigger deal than they actually are. He wants to do well “but it’s just a football game,” he’ll remind you. “If you’re not having fun out there, why are you doing it in the first place?” For Culp, it’s imperative he keeps a positive mindset. He plans to step back and really look at the situation. He wants to understand what’s going on and solve the problem.
Because all of his kicks felt good today. Those first two especially—which he missed to the right—didn’t feel like misses for Culp.
“Both of those kicks that went right felt really good coming off my foot,” Culp said. “I didn’t think they were going to go right. I’ll have to look back to the film as to what exactly happened but I was surprised myself. That’s kicking, too. It’s a millimeter game and I just got unlucky today.”
Mentally, he felt fine. Warmups, he felt fine. He wasn’t in his head throughout the game, either.
“Nothing felt off, nothing felt wrong,” he said. “It’s just a bad day and I’ll learn from it on Monday and move on from there.”
Now Culp will put his focus on rebounding and restarting. He knows things won’t always go his way, so it’s about how he handles the present and moves forward.
“You know, you’re going to have bad days. No one wants them,” Culp said. “I want to make the kick more than anyone else in that stadium. Sometimes things just don’t go your way. Also, at the end of the day, it’s just a game. That’s my mindset on it and I’m going to keep my head high. Stuff like that happens and I’m not going to let that affect me again.
“What’s done has been done and I’m moving on.”
More news and notes from the Huskers’ win over Buffalo:
>> Adrian Martinez’s 71-yard scramble ended up just short of the end zone in the second quarter, but it was devilishly hot. Fatigue was “definitely” a factor, Martinez said.
“Maybe around the 35-yard line I started doing the Madden tricks, zig-zagging and hoping the guy loses track of you.”
The run did, however, produce the Huskers’ first touchdown of the day and it put Martinez over the 2,000-yard mark in career rushing. He’s the 12th quarterback in Big Ten history to hit that number and now one of five in conference history with 2,000 career rushing yards and 6,000 career passing yards, joining Taylor Martinez (Nebraska), Antwaan Randle El (Indiana), Denard Robinson (Michigan) and Braxton Miller (Ohio State).
Martinez had 112 rushing yards on the day to push his career total to 2,032, passing Tommie Frazier for fifth on Nebraska’s all-time list among quarterbacks.
>> Nick Henrich played with Chris Hickman at Omaha (Neb.) Burke High School. The two committed to Nebraska and joined the team together as part of the 2019 recruiting class.
What did it mean for Henrich to see Hickman on the field against Buffalo?
“I mean, Chris, that’s my brother for life,” Henrich said. “We’ve been playing basketball and stuff together since we were little kids. Y’all don’t see how hard he really works behind the scenes and how bad he wants it. The dude is a grinder, so for him to have so much success on the field means everything to me. It’s awesome.”
>> What kind of opportunity does Oklahoma present for Nebraska as a program? Gabe Ervin Jr. has some thoughts.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Ervin said. “We need to take advantage of this opportunity. Dial into the details and everything else that comes into play. It’s a great team but they’re beatable. We can go out there and beat them. We just got to play us, run the ball well, fit it well and everything else start to open up in the pass game.”
-Nebraska defense, for the second week in a row, held the opponent to just one score. The three points allowed against Buffalo were the fewest by a Husker defense since a 24-3 win over Michigan State at Memorial Stadium in 2011.
The Blackshirts also held the Bulls to 359 total yards, their seventh straight game holding the opponent under 400, dating back to last season. That’s the longest streak at Nebraska since 2009–10. The 2009 Huskers held their final two opponents under 400 yards, then the 2010 defense held its first six opponents under that mark.
“The defense with Coach Chinander and Fish (Travis Fisher), (Mike) Dawson and (Barrett) Ruud and that whole group, what a great performance by them,” Frost said. “They gave up a little here and there, but man, they just didn’t quit the whole game against a good football team.”