All around the senior kicker was less clarity: To say something to him, or not to?
“If I was in that position, I don’t think I’d want anybody saying anything to me,” receiver Ryan Switzer said. “But I was asking around his special teams coach. I was like, ‘Can he hit this?’
“And they were like, ‘Yeah, he’s got it.’ So I just let him do his thing.”
Coach Larry Fedora was of a similar mindset.
“What would I say? ‘We need you to make it?’” Fedora said. “There’s nothing to say. He knows what he needs to do.”
Fedora had already spoken to Weiler twice during Saturday’s contest, but only after his kicks. More specifically, after his misses. The first was a 51-yard attempt Weiler pushed wide right to start the second half.
The second was much more recent, and more consequential. After quarterback Mitch Trubisky found Thomas Jackson for a 34-yard touchdown with 2:31 to play — a score which put UNC (4-1, 2-0 ACC) up six — Weiler trotted onto the field for an obligatory extra point.
It was blocked.
“I was just hoping the offense would give me a chance to redeem myself,” Weiler said.
The Seminoles (3-2, 0-2 ACC) promptly marched down the field and scored with 23 seconds left on a quarterback scramble. Then kicker Ricky Aguayo — who missed three first-half field goals of his own — knocked the extra point through the uprights to give Florida State a one-point advantage.
And here’s where it comes back to Fedora and Weiler’s second talk.
The coach asked Weiler what his range was, where the offense needed to march to have a shot. Weiler told him the 35.
UNC didn’t quite make it, tugging its offense off the field at the 37-yard line with four seconds remaining. But before Weiler could run onto the field, before his attempt at redemption and immortality, one person did dare speak to him.
“I don’t know if you’re supposed to talk to a kicker before he kicks a game winner or not,” Trubisky said. “But I just went over to him and I said, ‘I love you no matter what.’”
With that, Weiler jogged onto the field. He plucked a few blades of weathered grass and tossed them in the air to test the wind. Nothing. A clean shot would do it.
Long snapper Kyle Murphy and holder Joey Mangili squatted into position, and Weiler stepped backwards into his. He was inches from stomping on the midfield Seminoles logo, just seconds and a made field goal away from trouncing the actual Seminoles.
What do you think about in that moment? The gravity of the kick, the pending emotions? Nothing at all?
“Okay, you’re going to hit this kick,” Weiler said. “You’re going to go right down the middle, what are you going to do after? Make sure you get Joey, make sure you get Kyle. Make sure you hug them.”
The whistle blew, the ball was snapped, and Weiler strutted forward and clubbed the ball into the air. Then he watched — not the ball soaring clean over the bottom of the upright, but the arms of the referees as they launched into the air.
Good. UNC 37, Florida State 35. Suddenly, the garnet-and-gold-clad mob was silent as swaths of UNC players tore off the sidelines in celebration. They shouted, leapt, clutching their helmets, their teammates and this moment all just a little bit too tight.
It would be ecstasy, after all.