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Red-White special teams review: Culp, Cerni highlight mostly quiet day

Red-White special teams review: Culp, Cerni highlight mostly quiet day

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Red-White Spring Game, 5.1

Red Team kicker Chase Contreraz (right) kicks an extra point in the fourth quarter during the Red-White Spring Game on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

It was a mostly quiet day for the special teams, with no tackling, no returns and at times no linemen on the field other than a snapper. Still, there are a few takeaways to look at as we move into the offseason.

Two players who stood out

1. Reigning Big Ten kicker of the year Connor Culp performed as expected, hitting his only extra-point attempt and splitting the uprights on field goals of 30 and 22 yards into the wind to begin the second quarter for the Red Team. Culp was rock solid in 2020, and did nothing to dispel the notion that he will be again this fall.

2. Australian punter Daniel Cerni is intriguing for several reasons, not the least of which is that he stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 220 pounds. While Nebraska probably won't be lining him up at tight end any time soon, Cerni is an imposing figure and an intriguing player to watch going forward. He had a couple of solid punts into the strong south wind Saturday, ripping off a couple low, tight spirals to help the ball cut through the wind.

Two plays that stood out 

1. William Przystup had what might stand as the punt of the year in the first half, when he ripped a 70-yard bomb that rolled dead on the Red Team’s 3-yard line in the second quarter. Tough to take much of anything out of special teams on the day, but the boot was still impressive.

2. Cerni, in his first live action for Nebraska, had a 61-yard punt that came to a stop on the 12-yard line early in the second quarter. He didn't hit any high, hanging bombs that look good from the stands, but at the very least, Cerni appears to be an intriguing prospect. His lower ball flight probably needs to improve to help his coverage team get down the field.

Two things we learned or saw

1. A little different look on extra points and field goals in the first half, when walk-on running back Zach Weinmaster knelt down as the holder on Culp's kick attempts. Normally it's a quarterback or a punter handling the holding duties, but Weinmaster went largely unnoticed in his job, which is just what a holder would want.

2. The punting competition appears to be an open one. Przystup punted three times and averaged 50.7 yards, including the 70-yarder. Cerni also punted three times — once for the White Team and twice for the Red — averaging 46 yards per kick. Grant Detlefsen (two punts, 44.5 yard average) and Tyler Crawford (one punt for 53 yards) also got their shots in the second half.

One question to ponder before fall camp

How well will Nebraska cover kickoffs and punts? The Huskers did neither Saturday, sending just a snapper and a punter onto the field for punting, and putting a returner about 40 or so yards away to make the catch of the ball got somewhat close to him. Nebraska's deficiencies in those areas are well-known and have cost NU games, but there was no hint of what it might look like with Mike Dawson now serving as special teams coordinator.

Finishing touch

It looks like we won't see just how different the majority of Nebraska's special teams look until the games count for real in the fall. With no kickoffs, no punt coverage, and no rush on field-goal or punt attempts Saturday, there wasn't much to discern on a quiet day for a unit that needs to make big strides after three mostly disastrous seasons under Scott Frost.

Contact the writer at cbasnett@journalstar.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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