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For defensive purposes, I think there are really four statistics to consider: touchback percentage on kickoffs, punting average, and defense of punt and kickoff returns.
Nebraska is No. 8 nationally in kickoff touchback percentage at 68.97 percent. Being able to consistently get a kickoff into (or out of) the end zone is critically important to preserve field position and protect against a momentum-shifting return. Just ask Adi Kunalic in the Big 12 title game how important a touchback from a kickoff can be.
Defending punt returns and kick returns have also been a source of strength for Nebraska in 2013. Nebraska is No. 59 nationally in punt returns, allowing just one return over 20 yards. Kick returns have been even better for Nebraska, tied for first nationally with no returns over 20 yards.
Nebraska has also gotten help from its punter, freshman converted wide receiver Sam Foltz. He is No. 39 nationally in punting, averaging 42.3 yards per kick. (Punting stats from NCAA.com)
So for an area that could have been a real source of weakness for Nebraska given all the new players being broken in, NU’s success in defensive special teams should be viewed as a pleasant and welcome surprise.
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