OU football: Austin Seibert knows exactly how Gabe Brkic feels — and how to bounce back from a devastating miss
FORT WORTH, Texas — As soon as OU’s Gabe Brkic’s kick sailed wide two weeks ago to send the Red River Showdown to a fourth overtime, Austin Seibert had a sick feeling in his stomach.
Seibert knows exactly what Brkic was going through.
In 2018, Seibert had the opportunity he’d been dreaming about for years.
Army had just put together what could’ve been a soul-crushing drive — eating up more than 10 minutes of precious fourth-quarter time with the game tied before Kenneth Mann’s interception gave the Sooners hope to avoid overtime. Kyler Murray quickly led the Sooners down the field. With two seconds left on the clock, Seibert trotted out for a chip-shot of a field-goal — 33 yards.
He’d never kicked a game-winning kick before at any level and had hungered for just such a chance.
But then, Seibert’s dreams turned into nightmares when the kick sailed wide, sending the game into overtime.
“I just … I rushed it and pulled it left,” Seibert said this week. “Tried to look up and see it go in. And you’re not supposed to do that.”
The emotions Seibert had two years ago came flooding back after seeing Brkic’s 31-yard field goal go wide left.
- Related to this story
- Article: OU football: How do the Sooners fix their fourth-quarter woes? Lincoln Riley has a solution
- Article: OU football: Austin Stogner, like Mark Andrews before him, is a matchup nightmare for Sooner opponents
- Article: Why did new OU offensive lineman Chris Murray transfer from UCLA? 'He wanted to be coached by the best'
- Article: OU football: 3-2-1 kickoff for Sooners at TCU
- Article: OU vs. TCU football: Kickoff time, betting odds, matchup breakdown
- Article: Tramel: Spencer Rattler's overtime vs. Texas should boost OU quarterback's progression
- Video: OU Football: Preparing for TCU
“Kickers, we’re on an island,” Seibert said. “We put so much work into making one kick and you go out there and miss a short one and then you’ve got these keyboard warriors and people who know how to kick who are sitting on their couch trying to tell us what to do.
“If you read that stuff, it can eat you up a little bit.”
Brkic has been fantastic for the Sooners overall.
As a redshirt freshman a year ago, he lost the job to Calum Sutherland before the season, then took over in late September and became one of the most reliable kickers the Sooners or anyone else had ever seen.
He made all of his kicks — 17 field goals and 52 extra points — last season, including a 31-yarder with 1:45 remaining against Baylor that put the Sooners ahead for the first time since the first quarter and proved to be the game-winner.
But kicks like Brkic had against Texas and Seibert had against Army — game-winning, game-ending kicks — don’t come around very often, so when they’re missed, the effects can linger.
Seibert bounced back well, making all 14 field-goal tries he had for the Sooners after the Army miss.
“But it was probably one of the best mistakes I’ve ever made,” Seibert said.
The kick helped him grow mentally, and the way the coaches and teammates reacted to it kept his confidence from sagging.
“I felt like (expletive),” Seibert said. “I didn’t want to let my teammates down, that was the biggest thing. I didn’t really care that I missed the kick, I let my teammates down.
“As an 18-, 20-, 21-year-old kid, you’re still … kind of fragile to certain situations. … So I treated it as a very good growing pain for me and just really kept believing in me and letting me know that my teammates were the same way.”
In the aftermath of the Texas game, Seibert called Brkic, his former teammate, to make sure he was handling things all right.
“He felt like (expletive), felt bad, and I just told him he can’t worry about it,” Seibert said. “He just has to go out there and make the next one and we had a pretty good conversation about it.”
A few days later, Seibert checked back in.
“Are you still alive?” Seibert texted.
Brkic’s response comforted Seibert.
“It’s a game,” Seibert said, summarizing the conversation. “It’s not life or death, and that was a problem for me when I was younger because I really took it as this is all or nothing and I let that kind of thing eat me up a little bit and after missing that kick, you kind of got a reality check.”
Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said he still had full trust in Brkic.
“I’ve seen how the guy’s been hitting the ball in practice, how he hit the ball on kickoffs (against Texas). That was just a one-offer that he missed,” Riley said. “I think it’ll be a great learning experience for him, that even a guy that’s as good as he is and has had as much success as he’s had, he’s still gotta lock back into those fundamentals on each and every kick.”