Redshirt freshman Sam Foltz was standing in the end zone as he awaited the snap to launch the first punt of his Husker career.
Not exactly ideal.
But Foltz handled the pressure just fine, booting a 56-yarder that drew a loud ovation from the sold-out home crowd. Foltz didn't hear the cheers — he was too focused on his job — but he felt good about the kick.
“I had a lot of emotion building up, coming out of the tunnel for the first time,” Foltz said. “I was fortunate to get off a great punt. It really calmed my nerves the rest of the time, gave me a lot of confidence.”
It showed at the end of Saturday's win, when Nebraska was clinging to a 37-34 lead with 1:15 left. Foltz purposely popped up one punt toward the sideline and Kenny Bell downed it at the 6-yard line.
Foltz called that his “Aussie” style punt, dropping the football on its nose to increase the odds that it bounces away from the end zone. He learned it from ex-Husker Brett Maher.
“All I had to do was put it up in the sky, and I knew Kenny or Josh (Mitchell) were going to get down there in a hurry and make a play,” Foltz said.
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Perhaps the reason why the walk-on from Grand Island kept his poise was because he came to Nebraska for this role. He was also a scout team receiver last fall.
But he started practicing to become a holder (he's the first-team holder now). He became a full-time special teams guy in the spring.
The hard work paid off Saturday, when he flipped the field three times and dropped two punts inside the 20.
“I thought I handled it all right. There's always room for improvement,” Foltz said. “I came out, hit a couple balls well to start out the game. I gained a lot of confidence right away. I was happy with how I started.”
D-line mix not always according to plan
Though Nebraska had designed an ideal way to rotate on the defensive line before Saturday's game, coach Rick Kaczenski indicated that there were times when things didn't go according to plan.
The Huskers mixed and matched four defensive ends and five defensive tackles. And since only two of those players were upperclassmen, the hope was that either senior Thad Randle and Jason Ankrah would be on the field at one time, Kaczenski said.
And perhaps the veterans played too many snaps.
“As you get in the game and things are tight, you kind of fall back on your older guys,” Kaczenski said.
Cowboys don't take much time
Wyoming's compilation of 602 total yards against Nebraska didn't translate into a huge figure in time of possession, but did include a lot of time in Husker territory.
Before the Cowboys' desperation drive stalled on their 31-yard line as time expired, they had crossed midfield on 10 of their previous 13 possessions. Another had touched the 50-yard line before quarterback Brett Smith took a knee and a 1-yard loss on the last play of the first half.
Nebraska finished with a huge edge in time of possession (35:58-24:02) and ran 11 more plays (85-74) as it gained 530 total yards.
Also, the 35 first downs by Wyoming were the most ever by a Husker opponent.