Iowa vs. Nebraska, 11.26

Iowa's Kyler Fisher (37) scores a touchdown on punt by Nebraska's William Przystup that Iowa blocked as the Hawkeyes' Sebastian Castro (29), Mike Timm (36) and Jay Higgins celebrate in the fourth quarter Friday at Memorial Stadium.

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Following Iowa's 28-21 win against Nebraska on Friday, Steven M. Sipple and Parker Gabriel went live on Facebook to discuss the game and take your questions.

After losing to Iowa 28-21, Scott Frost was asked about whether or not he'll hire a full-time special teams coordinator in the offseason.

Friday was not the day to talk about staffing, the fourth-year Husker football coach said.

But everyone leaving Stadium Drive was talking about more bad special teams play.

When Iowa's Henry Marchese came off the left edge to block William Przystup's punt early in the fourth quarter, it completely flipped the latest Huskers-Hawkeyes showdown and created one more special teams blunder for Frost and his staff to gnaw on during the upcoming offseason.

This one perhaps stung the hardest for a team in desperate need of momentum going into the offseason.

The ball was blocked into the air, Kyler Fisher caught it and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown to give life to an Iowa team that was teetering.

That was the game, Frost said afterward.

"It is not new this year," he said. "I need to do a better job making sure that we are up to speed on that, and I think we made a lot of progress, but I do not know if the timing was off or if we were late or somebody missed an assignment."

Frost said the look in his players' eyes after the punt bugaboo remained great. They still believed they were going to win the game, he added.

"I am sure they believed it when it was 21-9," the coach added. "Then the blocked punt happened, it was probably human nature they have it in the back of their head, and wins take care of that."

Nebraska players said the play didn't shake their confidence.

"It's just another one of those things that happens that we try so hard to not let happen," Husker defensive lineman Casey Rogers said. "Energywise, we were still in the game, the defense was playing hard and dominating the game, it didn't really change anything.

"It made it more a challenge. Go back out there and put out the fire."

The Huskers, however, couldn't put out the fire. Iowa scored 19 fourth-quarter points, all unanswered, to steal a victory.

“Obviously that was when they started to score," NU's Ben Stille said of the impact of the blocked punt. "We had two chances to get off the field on two scoring drives in the first half on two interceptions, so that also kills us.”

Iowa saw something in NU's punt protection that led to a game-turning play. Marchese told reporters after the game that Iowa's punt block team practiced the attack all week if NU was punting from the left hash mark, and got a feel for the Huskers' cadence.

The Hawkeyes had an overwhelming edge in the game's third phase coming in, and it was on great display on Black Friday.

Caleb Shudak drilled four field goals to keep the Hawkeyes in the game. And Iowa's Tory Taylor, who has a knack for deadening punts inside the 5-yard line, coaxed Oliver Martin to fair-catch a ball at the NU 7 with 10:37 remaining, and two points followed after Logan Smothers was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone.

Nebraska's special teams lapses this season piled up enough to likely have made them a topic of conversation at dinner tables from Omaha to Chadron on Thanksgiving Day.

It started in the season opener against Illinois when Cam Taylor-Britt mishandled a punt return. It continued at Michigan State (punt return for a touchdown) and just last week at Wisconsin, where the Badgers returned the opening kick for a score.

The place-kicker situation was never settled.

It all adds up to an interesting offseason for Frost, who has several personnel decisions to make regarding the makeup of his coaching staff.

 

This article originally ran on journalstar.com.

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