LINCOLN — Nebraska coach Mike Riley didn’t have a definite diagnosis regarding injuries when he met with reporters after the game.
Punter Sam Foltz was carted off with a left foot injury in the third quarter of NU’s 33-28 loss to BYU. Riley described that as “like a sprain” but said nothing more. Foltz was using crutches and wore a protective boot after the game.
Senior tight end David Sutton, who made his first career start, also left the field on a cart after he suffered an apparent foot injury. He did not return to the game.
Receiver Alonzo Moore didn’t play in the second half — he left the locker room with a protective boot on his right foot. Tight end Trey Foster and quarterback Tommy Armstrong had boots on, too, as they met with reporters after the game. Armstrong said he’s fine.
But there is apparently concern regarding defensive end Jack Gangwish, who injured an arm in Saturday’s game. Defensive coordinator Mark Banker indicated that the NU staff is still awaiting news on that injury.
Kicker believes better days ahead
The first Nebraska player to address the media following Saturday’s shocking loss might have been the guy who felt the worst about it.
Kicker Drew Brown spoke to a group of reporters that numbered at least 15 at times and took the blame for a pair of missed field goals, including a 41-yarder in the final minute.
“Just didn’t do what I needed to do,” Brown said. “I didn’t rely on what I’ve (done) this whole fall camp.”
The sophomore made 14 of 21 field-goal attempts last season, but started 2015 with misses on both of his tries.
The first, a 40-yarder as time expired in the second quarter, could have given the Huskers momentum going into halftime.
But it was his wide-left pull with Nebraska trying to run out the clock late in the game that left the door open for a winning field goal by BYU.
“You’ve got to get through these bad days to get to the best days,” Brown said. “It’s going to happen. It happens to everyone.”
Asked if he had many bad days through fall camp, Brown said he couldn’t remember any.
“I try to be as consistent as I can in practice because it translates to the game,” he said. “Obviously it didn’t translate today. It’s just part of the game and something that I can build upon.”
A tough day have gotten even worse when he saw punter Sam Foltz go down with an injury in the second half.
Brown was noticeably upset afterward.
“When he went down, it just got the best of me,” Brown said. “Obviously Sam’s definitely our best special teams player; he’s a weapon for our team; he’s one of my best friends most importantly. I can learn from it.”
To Brown’s credit, he showed up afterward and made no excuses for the misses. Even when given the opportunity to blame a slight wind.
“It shouldn’t have,” Brown said when asked if the wind affected his kicks. “I just thought about it too much.”
Rookies get first taste of action
Seven true freshmen made their debuts for Nebraska on Saturday.
Safety Aaron Williams and linebacker Dedrick Young both started. Receiver Stanley Morgan caught two passes and returned a punt. Devine Ozigbo, Tyrin Ferguson and Antonio Reed also saw the field on special teams. Freshman long-snapper Jordan Ober played in his first game as well.
Williams said he wasn’t overwhelmed.
“After my first series,” he said, “I was calm and relaxed.”
Interception gives NU some juice
With things not going so well Saturday, Nebraska got a third-quarter boost from a likely candidate.
BYU was in Husker territory with a 24-14 lead when safety Nate Gerry intercepted Taysom Hill. The junior returned it 43 yards, setting up the first of back-to-back touchdowns by the NU offense.
“We needed a jump,” Gerry said. “We just needed a lot of juice. We needed something to spark it. And the best way to do it is defense making a play.”
Gerry was voted a team captain this season after intercepting five passes a year ago and being a second-team All-Big Ten selection.
“That’s part of being a leader,” he said. “We’ve just got to make plays and turn things around.”
NU defensive coordinator Mark Banker wasn’t surprised, noting that Gerry had an interception on the same pass and same coverage in practice.
“It created some momentum, kind of that feel-good type of deal,” Banker said. “I think that was good.”
Coordinator spends day on field
Not many teams decide to have both their offensive and defensive coordinators down on the sideline during the game.
But offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf figured it was a good idea for him to stay down there for NU’s opener. It’s likely that he’ll stay down as time goes on, as well.
“I just think being able to communicate a little bit more and a little bit longer — especially with the quarterback — to make sure we’re getting all the communication,” Langsdorf said. “I can talk to Tommy (Armstrong) on the phones, but, at the same time, it’s good to talk to the receivers and the backs and have everybody be on the same page.”
Langsdorf said Nebraska’s offense got “out of sorts” in the second quarter when several drives were snuffed out by penalties and poor throws from Armstrong, who struggled to get on the same page with wide receivers. Langsdorf also wanted more out of NU’s running backs, who combined to run for 91 yards on 23 carries.
Head coach Mike Riley wants more, too.
“There was not much in the first half,” Riley said. “We did better in the second half.”