AUSTIN, Texas -- Two hours after the toughest miss of his life, Nick Rose was still sitting in Texas’ locker room.
He was the last player to leave. But he wasn’t alone.
Charlie Strong walked back through the locker room at the end of the night. There he found Rose, still in agony over his missed extra point to end the Longhorns’ 45-44 loss to Cal. So Strong sat down.
“We talked till about 12:30, 1 o’clock,” Strong said. “I said to him, ‘There’s going to be battles in life and struggles in life and adversity is going to happen to you in your life. It’s over with. You can’t relive this moment.’”
All the senior can do is move forward, tough as that might be. But he still has the full faith of his coaches and teammates. They know Texas’ kicking game is in good hands with Rose.
The miss with 1:11 to go, after Jerrod Heard had rallied Texas within one on a 45-yard touchdown, is still a bit hard to fathom.
Cal cornerback Darius White came off the right edge and put unexpected pressure on Rose. White claims he did tip the attempt, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in replays from sideline cameras.
It was just a miss. Wide right. Rose seemed to know it as soon as it left his foot.
As Rose slowly walked off his home field with his head down, tight end Caleb Bluiett put an arm over his shoulder and offered reassurance. Teammates tried to find the right thing to say. Mostly, they just tried to be there for him.
“The great thing is the team has rallied around him,” Strong said. “A lot of the guys have really tried to pick him up.”
Linebacker Peter Jinkens, one of Rose’s best friends, told him to keep his head up. They’ve been buddies ever since their freshman move-in day. Jinkens could see how hard Rose was taking this one.
“You could tell in his eyes,” Jinkens said. “He didn’t really talk to nobody. He was just really solemn.”
Jinkens tried texting him afterward but got no response. Strong called on Sunday morning to check in. Receivers coach Jay Norvell had another idea: He made sure Rose attended Texas’ offensive meetings on Sunday.
“I wanted him to hear what I had to tell the offense,” Norvell said. “We had so many penalties, turnovers, missed opportunities on fourth down. There were a lot of mistakes made in that game by a lot of people, me included.
“A kid can’t take that all on his shoulders.”
Rose was not made available for interviews this week, but Texas players could tell Monday he was getting back on track. He’s hit 13 of his last 17 field goals and went into this season brimming with confidence. He’ll get it back.
“As a team, we have to rally around him and let him know we’re here if he needs anything,” Jinkens said. “We’ve just got to keep giving him encouragement.”
Before Rose left the locker room early Sunday morning, Strong offered a prediction. Maybe it’ll come true Saturday against No. 24 Oklahoma State.
“You know what’s going to happen? We're going to get an opportunity,” Strong recalled telling Rose. “It's going to be a tight game down the stretch here. You're going to go out there, you're going to go bang a 50-yarder and we're going to win the game."