William Przystup had to double-check that special teams coordinator Mike Dawson was serious when he asked the sophomore punter if he was ready to play against Oklahoma.
The question came right as the team got off the bus, and he didn’t know that he’d be the starter until 30 minutes before gametime. Still, he was prepared for the opportunity.
“I’m always prepared in this case. I’ve been here for three years,” Przystup said. “Every situation that occurs I can go on for kickoff, field goal, I don’t know what to prepare for at this point. I’m just ready for it.”
That mentality isn’t a surprise, as he’s seen eight different players kick a field goal or extra point in his three years as a Husker, and three different punters play besides himself. He hasn’t had to attempt a field goal yet, but was a kickoff specialist his first year in 2019.
The occurrence that pushed Przystup onto the field this game was an injury to starting punter Daniel Cerni.
“Both guys have done a good job,” head coach Scott Frost said. “Daniel was a little nicked up early in the week last week and missed some time, and we went the other way and I thought he punted really well.”
Although Przystup had just two punts, they went for 52 and 48 yards, the two longest punts of Nebraska’s season. Frost said it’ll remain an open competition between the two moving forward.
The other notable special teams area right now for Nebraska is kicker. Connor Culp, the 2020 conference kicker of the year, has continued to struggle, missing a pair of field goals against the Sooners despite also making a career-long 51-yarder.
Despite Culp’s struggles thus far, the team isn’t losing faith in his ability to bounce back.
“He knows how much we need him,” quarterback Adrian Martinez said. “Last year he was an All-Big Ten kicker and the guy’s a stud. I haven’t lost faith in him and I know the guys haven’t either. He’s the man, I know he’s going to come back around and be the same guy he has been for us.”
Getting special teams in order could be crucial against No. 20 Michigan State this weekend. Frost has coached against Spartan head coach Mel Tucker before, as the Huskers lost in overtime to Colorado in 2019. That game was decided by the Buffaloes making a field goal in overtime and the Huskers missing their attempt to tie.
The lone meeting between Frost’s Huskers and the Spartans in 2018 is also memorable for its special teams play. Nebraska won 9-6 in a game which only featured points on field goals.
Przystup was on the opposing sideline in that game, serving as Michigan State’s starting punter. He had seven punts for 294 yards in that game against the Huskers, then transferred to Nebraska before the 2019 season. He’s looking forward to seeing his old team again.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “Can’t wait to see a few friends there, can’t wait to see some of the specialists, but also I can’t wait to kick some butt.”
One of the major things he recalls from playing at Michigan State is the dimensions of the stadium. Przystup said it feels like “you’re stuck in a rink,” as the walls surrounding the field are taller. That makes for an environment where it feels even more like all eyes are on you. He said that the wind isn’t bad, although it circles at times in the middle of the stadium.
The biggest difference of all on Saturday, though, might be the atmosphere in East Lansing, which he said isn’t as exciting.
“It’s going to be like here, just not as many fans,” Przystup said. “That’s the only problem.”