Nebraska assistant coach Scott Downing immediately sought out Jordan Congdon.
The true freshman kicker had just missed a 21-yard field goal — basically the equivalent of an extra point, with an angle — in the first half of Saturday’s game at Memorial Stadium.
Downing didn’t give any big rah-rah speeches, and he didn’t berate the youngster, either.
“We talked about just getting back to his basics,” Downing said.
Congdon did just that, making a 23-yard field goal to tie the game in the fourth quarter, then hitting two extra point attempts in Nebraska’s 27-20 overtime victory over Iowa State.
“He showed the poise of a veteran in being able to adjust and come back and bang the next ones through,” Downing said.
But still, did Downing have any doubts about sending Congdon out for those extra points, knowing the freshman had already missed from close range?
“No. None,” Downing said. “And I’ll tell you why: Because he’s got such a great, positive mental attitude. He’s a tough kid mentally. He’s been accurate. I think he was trying to put a little oomph on that one kick and got by the spot a little bit.
“It’s a windy day out there, and sometimes, because Jordan is still a young kicker, he’s still getting used to the nuances of Memorial Stadium, the wind was alternately gusting and dropping off. Sometimes that can cause you as a kicker to feel like you’ve got to make an adjustment or two.”
Congdon said he appreciated Downing’s words after the missed field goal. He also said he doesn’t necessarily need any words of comfort or encouragement, either.
“You’re only as good as your next kick. You’ve just got to move on,” Congdon said. “After I missed that one today, that’s what I did.”
Before each of Congdon’s extra-point attempts in overtime, the Memorial Stadium crowd seemed eerily quiet. Congdon said he didn’t notice too much.
“To be honest, when you’re on the field, the stadium really isn’t that loud,” he said. “It was just a big difference because after the touchdown, everyone was going crazy.
“You can’t really think of it as a pressure situation. You just have to hit it … the exact same way I hit every other one.”
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