This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Going into the Nebraska-BYU game last Saturday, I figured the Cornhuskers would have the edge in special teams.
But the opposite was true.
Special teams helped the Cougars win the game, as BYU kicker Trevor Samson made two field goals and the Huskers missed their two FG tries.
Punter Jonny Linehan flipped the field several times more on that in a later blog and the Cougars didn't give up any long punt or kickoff returns. Austin Brasher kicked one ball out of bounds, but otherwise was solid on his kickoffs.
The wind had a lot to do with every play as the Cougars faced the wind in the first and fourth quarters.
Special teams coach Kelly Poppinga had this assessment on Tuesday morning regarding special teams play:
"A lot to improve on, but I thought for the first game we did some good things," Poppinga said. "We have 10 goals that we try to reach every single game, and we reached seven of those 10. And if we make a tackle on that last kickoff, we reach that goal as well. So I think that the punt team performed well. A lot had to do with the wind during the game, was the reason we performed well. Jonny kicked the ball well, but the wind helped him out with a couple of those punts. For his first college football game, to come in and do what he did, I am very happy with that. He played real well as well.
And then Trevor Samson comes in and hits two big field goals. If we don't hit those, the game is a little bit different as well. So our protection needs to be better in our PAT/Field goal team. Our field goal block team played real really hard, and they went after those guys hard. We came close on two or three kicks of blocking them.
And I think that had an affect on their kicker, to be honest with you. I think that affected Nebraska's kicker as the game went on, and that's maybe why one of the reasons he missed those kicks at the end.
Overall, I would give it a B-minus. And a lot to improve on, a lot of room to grow."
Poppinga said that freshman Micah Hannemann has won the job as the primary punt returner, edging out Devon Blackmon, Eric Takenaka and Mitchell Juergens.
"He won that job in practice and just the one kick that he got in the game, I thought he looked really good. I mean, he was one [tackle away from a TD]. Just breaking one tackle and he was going to score. And so he almost broke it, too. He tried to hurdle the guy, and the guy tripped him at the last second. If he breaks that tackle, he is going to score a touchdown right there.
So really impressed with how he has handled it. Really calm and collected when he is out there doing it for the first time. But yeah, it is his job to lose from here on out."