All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In the "Carriker Chronicles" video series, he breaks down the latest NU news, upcoming opponents, player updates and recruiting information, and he offers his insight into the X's and O's and more.
On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker talks to former Husker and current Tennessee Titans defensive back Joshua Kalu about being the last Nebraska player in the NFL playoffs, his game-winning field goal block against Kansas City, his time with NU and more.
Want more Chronicles? Follow Carriker on Twitter and Facebook and sign up to get an email whenever a new show is posted.
Check out a full transcript below:
Adam: Welcome to the Carriker Chronicles, the people’s show, where we check the pulse of Husker Nation. Brought to you by Nebraska Spine Hospital. Today, ladies and gentlemen, I am joined by Joshua Kalu. He’s a former Husker defensive back from 2014 to 2017. During his time with Nebraska, he had seven career interceptions and 215 total tackles. He is in his second year in the league with the Tennessee Titans right now, and he happens to be the lone Husker left in the NFL playoffs. We’ll see if he can or can not keep the Huskers in the Super Bowl streak alive. How are you doing today, Josh?
Josh: I’m doing extremely well today.
Adam: I’m glad to hear that, man. I want to go backwards before we go forwards. I don’t know if people know, but it’s been an interesting year for you. On September 2nd, you got placed on IR. You got brought back October 30th. You started practicing a couple days later on November 2nd. So after being out almost a couple months, you block a game-winning field goal on November 10th as time expired to upset… the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-32. What was that feeling like, having gone through all of that beforehand?
Josh: It was tough being placed on IR. I had real high hopes for this season. Then I get placed on IR. The coaches re-evaluated me after a couple weeks to see when they were going to bring me back, so I just put my head down and kept working. Worked out every day, kept doing the things I needed to do. Didn’t worry about the “what ifs” just let things happen. Then, I was cleared to get out and start practicing. It felt good to be out there with my guys. I wasn’t expecting to be moved up for a couple weeks, but they told me they were ready for me and I travelled with them to the Panthers. Unfortunately we didn’t get a win, but that got my feet wet I guess. Next week we’re playing the Chiefs and everybody’s making plays and trying to do their part. I ended up making one of the big plays in the game, blocking that field goal. But it was crazy, because the play before that I gave up a long catch in an end of the game situation. In my head, I was like, if I get an opportunity to make a play, I’m gonna go make it. I’m gonna shoot my shot. The play and the opportunity arose and I took advantage of it.
Adam: Yeah, it’s funny because you hear coaches say the two positions that have to have the shortest memory on the field are quarterback on offense and cornerback or defensive back on defense. That worked out well for you. I want to go a little further back, because I want to talk about the Titans as a whole real quick. It will tie in to Nebraska because we (hopefully) will have a legit quarterback battle this offseason, and the Titans had one this season as well. Week 7, you guys bench your franchise quarterback, the Heisman winner, the number one draft pick, Marcus Mariota, and you bring in Ryan Tannehill. You guys have played much better ever since. What was that like for you guys and how can Husker fans relate as we try to find our starting quarterback going forward?
Josh: First of all, Nebraska is a different animal. We’ve experienced it and know how it is. Being a younger guy, there’s a lot of pressure on you and the coaches to get things figured out. Sometimes the results are going to be delayed, and sometimes they’re not. In this case with Marcus and Ryan, the GM and coach made the decision. Whether it’s right or not, we just go out there and do our jobs. We’re all professionals. We’re not paid to make decisions, we’re here to perform. When you’re in college, it’s a different experience because you don’t have that mindset. There are so many more emotions tied to it, where in the NFL, it’s just do your job. The coach is making the decision for a reason and it’s their job to hold everybody accountable.
Adam: Yeah the NFL is definitely more business-like. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with whomever doesn’t win that job. Anyway-
Josh: You’re right, because I’m planning on coming to the Spring Game again and working with the coaches. It’ll be interesting to see what shakes out.
Adam: I’ll be there too! Hopefully I’ll see you there. Now, fast forward to the end of the regular season. You guys are in the playoff hunt. The Patriots know they’re in, they’re just battling for seeding. The Ravens have the one seed and rested half of their starters week 17. Maybe that was good, maybe it wasn’t. You guys are battling each and every week. What was that like to battle just to get into the playoff as a six seed?
Josh: Man, it was a fight. We took it one game at a time. We had a game plan, keys to the game plan, and just did our job to go execute it. We didn’t think about the end. We knew where we wanted to get to, but it was one game at a time. There was a time when we were 2-4. We put our head down, and said let’s go win the next one. Whether we won or not, our goal was just to win the next one. Next thing we know, we’re in the playoffs. Every game was a playoff game, because if we lost, we were done. We went to the Texans last game of the season, and knew we had to win and we did. We went to the Patriots, everyone counted us out, but we had our game plan, the keys to the game plan, executed it, and we won. Went to the Ravens and did the same thing. Now we’re in the AFC Championship, one win away, you know?
Adam: So, you go on the road, beat the defending champion New England Patriots and Tom Brady, then beat the number one seeded Ravens and league MVP Lamar Jackson, and they had the best record in the league by the way. What have these past two weeks been like personally and for the team as a whole?
Josh: From my own point of view, the atmosphere has been more than crazy. When they talk about playoff atmosphere, it’s unmatchable. But going there, there is no being star struck. You just gotta go in there and do your job. This group of guys with the Tennessee Titans, we’re like hyenas, we’re always on the prowl. We’re not worried about the big names, we ride as a pack. We knocked out the Patriots, the Ravens, and now we’re going against the Chiefs. We knew to get where we wanted to be, we’d have to beat the best teams. It might be cold, or whatever, but there’s plenty of sun to go around in Miami.
Adam: Man, I feel like there’s a lesson that can be learned there for the Husker players and coaches right now. Coming together as a team and taking on Ohio State, Michigan, and these other teams. Very similar situation and we need to come together ourselves. Alright, now talk to me about Derrick Henry. Is he bigger than all the defensive linemen on your team? I’m looking at him on the TV screen and he looks like a d lineman!
Josh: (Laughing) Oh man, not enough can be said about this guy. He comes in here and he’s one of the hardest working guys. Comes in early, stays late, lifts after practice every day, which is the best thing to maintain the body. The guy is 6’3” 240 and runs faster than me. Those linemen love him and it shows. They’re working hard for him. I don’t call the plays or run the plays, but I see it.
Adam: Talk to me as you guys get ready for the Chiefs. What are you thinking about as you get ready and what can the fans expect to see as they get ready to watch the AFC Championship?
Josh: You have two teams that want to play in the Super Bowl and are going to go out there and give their all. You can’t say enough about Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek, and the defense. They’ve had an awesome season and they have an outstanding team. We’re going to go out there and be well prepared, and give it the best shot we can to try to win.
Adam: Now a few Nebraska questions. I read about you to be prepared for the interview, and found out you had six different position coaches, that’s more than 1 every year. That’s crazy! Also, talk to me about Nebraska right now, being looked at as down and out. You guys were looked at that way when you were here too. What can Nebraska fans take from your experience this year going forward?
Josh: I got there with Coach Bo. I was recruited by coach Joseph, he ended up going to Texas A&M. Then I was with Coach Warren and he was there for a semester. So coming out of high school, I met two different guys in one year and they’re both gone. After that, I had Coach Elliott and he passed away. Then three more coaches. In total, I had six different position coaches, three defensive coordinators, and two different head coaches. All within four years. I put my head down and I worked as hard as I could. I mean, I feel sometimes I could have worked harder. I slacked in some areas as a young guy. Sometimes I feel like I let people down. But, as a young guy with a different mindset, it’s hard with all these things happening to not get in a funk. And if you’re not strong minded, it’s hard to get out of it.
Those guys at Nebraska work hard. I know they work hard. Those coaches don’t allow them to not work hard. Every day they’re going out there and giving their all, win or lose. Every day, I’ve been on them win or lose. That’s my team. If I can stay on them, everyone can stay on them.
Adam: Alright man, I appreciate it. Good luck this Sunday, good luck going forward, and until next time Husker Nation, Go Big Red and always remember…
Josh: Throw the bones, baby, throw the bones!
Thanks again to the Nebraska Spine Hospital. Ladies and gentlemen, when it’s your spine, you do not want to mess around. Experience matters. That’s why you can trust the experts at Nebraska Spine Hospital, the region's only spine specific hospital. They are the best at what they do.