NORMAN, Okla. — At this point, rather than rehashing the same complaints, perhaps Nebraska football fans watching the team's continued special teams misadventures perhaps could learn a new language.
Maybe French. As in "pardon my French."
No matter the language, the expletives surely flew from couches across the state as the Huskers once again shot off an entire foot with kicking game blunders.
They came Saturday in the form of two more missed field goals from Connor Culp, and a blocked extra point that Oklahoma returned for two points.
Nine points given away by NU in a game the Huskers lost by seven.
"The kicking game cost us a bunch of points today, and that’s happened too often," Nebraska coach Scott Frost said. "I know how much attention to the detail in that has been paid by our coaching staff and our team, but we’ve got to get it figured out."
Culp, the reigning Big Ten kicker of the year, appears to be lost in the wilderness that only an unfortunate few can understand. The senior has missed five of his last six kicks and is 3-for-8 on the season.
After setting a new career-best with a 51-yarder in the first quarter, Culp missed from 50 yards in the second quarter, and bounced one off the right upright in the north end zone in the third.
"Connor missed a lot of camp with an injury and I don’t know if it’s lack of reps or what it is, but I know how good he can be. I’ve seen it," Frost said. "It was my decision to put somebody else in to kick and we went with Kelen Meyer. It wasn’t so much that he (Culp) missed the kick, it was kind of his reaction after the kick to me. Then he came back in and hit his next one."
The second miss led Frost to make a change after Adrian Martinez scored on a 4-yard run in the third quarter, and added a new chapter to the drama.
Frost brought in Meyer, the freshman from Ord, to attempt the extra point after Martinez's run pulled NU within 14-9. What followed was right guard Ethan Piper getting nearly knocked on his rear end at the snap by Oklahoma's Isaiah Coe, who then had to simply take a couple of steps forward, reach up and block the kick. OU safety Pat Fields scooped the ball up and took it 100 yards the other way for a safety and a 16-9 lead.
"It’s really frustrating," center Cameron Jurgens said. "I know we gave up nine points in the kicking game, but to be honest, we need to be scoring and not leaving it up to any of that. If we go down there, we need to be scoring, so we’ve just got to keep working on it."
Strife with stripes: Suffice it to say, Cam Jurgens didn’t think he played with unnecessary roughness on Saturday against Oklahoma.
After the game, he moved his hand and bumped a reporter’s microphone cover off. As the fuzzy top fell to the concrete floor just off the corner of the field, the Nebraska center deadpanned, “Unsportsmanlike on me right there.”
Jurgens was called for two 15-yard personal fouls on Saturday. The second, in particular, he took issue with. Jurgens was locked up with an OU defender way down the field at the end of a long run for running back Rahmir Johnson and shoved him to the ground after the action behind him had concluded. The line judge’s flag came out right in front of him and the NU sideline exploded in anger.
“I’m not holding off. I’m going to be the same guy every time I’m blocking someone,” the sophomore from Beatrice said after the game. “If I’m blocking a guy 30 yards downfield and his hand gets in my face, I can’t hear the whistle. I’m going to finish this guy. It is what it is.”
Frost also didn’t like a third-down play that Oklahoma ran on its opening drive, saying he thought Cam Taylor-Britt received an illegal crack-back block on a 19-yard gain to Mario Williams. It was essentially like a pick play, but Taylor-Britt got blasted just as Williams caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage.
“Thought we got an illegal crack-back block on that first touchdown that might have taken those points off the board and that didn’t get called, but I need to see that on tape,” Frost said.
Ervin goes down: Freshman running back Gabe Ervin Jr. crumpled on a third-quarter carry and immediately grabbed his right knee. The Georgia native planted to get up the field, but went down in a heap with a dreaded noncontact injury.
“We’re going to reevaluate him when he gets back (to Lincoln),” Frost said. “Looks like he could miss a little bit of time.”
After the game, he made his way to the team bus on crutches and with a brace over his right leg.
“Guy’s a baller, as you all know,” redshirt freshman running back Rahmir Johnson said. “I feel bad for the young guy. Hopefully it’s not too serious and we can get him back later on in the year. But we’re going to ride for him and play for him, and hopefully get him back soon.”
RB Johnson gets his turn: As the rotation keeps turning in Nebraska’s running backs room, Johnson stepped to the foreground on Saturday.
The redshirt freshman started and led NU backs with 11 carries for 42 yards to go along with three catches for 36 in what was the best overall day of his career.
“All those guys are so even right now that we’re letting them compete all week in practice and whoever practices the best gets to go,” Frost said. “I thought that’s the hardest I’ve seen Rahmir run. He’s got speed that makes him a little bit different and I thought he played a good game.”
Tight end Teddy: Nebraska used freshman offensive lineman Teddy Prochaska in a limited package Saturday, lining the Elkhorn North product up as a tight end wearing No. 46 in a jumbo look.
It marked the third consecutive game the true freshman has seen time, meaning he can play in just one more contest if Nebraska plans to redshirt him this season.
"We felt like it was a big package, run to that side," Johnson said. "Teddy’s a good guy; he’s been doing his thing, blocking his ass off. We’ve been working on this for a long time now, so we felt like we were ready to use it."
Frost appreciated atmosphere: It’s been a while since Nebraska and Oklahoma played, but Frost said Saturday he enjoyed the atmosphere and making the trip to Norman.
“I can’t say enough good about Oklahoma. That was our bitter rival for so many years,” the former Husker quarterback said. “But I’ve talked to people that came down and they say how well they were treated here. I’ve got a ton of respect for (defensive coordinator Alex) Grinch and (head coach Lincoln) Riley and this program. (Riley) inherited it from Coach (Bob) Stoops and it was in good shape and he’s kept it rolling or improved it. We’re trying to get back to that level and I think we showed today that we’re close.
“I root for Oklahoma every time they’re playing unless they’re playing us. I think a lot of this team and this place and the people here.”