Nebraska Safety Matt O'Hanlon is Big 12 Player of the Week, Kicker/Punter Alex Henery Ignored


The Big 12 selected Matt O'Hanlon as Defensive Player of the Week yesterday. It wasn't that difficult a selection. O'Hanlon tied a school record for interceptions in a game, the fourth player in Nebraska history to do so. The last time this happened was 30 years ago (almost to the day), on November 10th, 1979, when Ric Lindquist intercepted three passes against Kansas State. The other two times came in the first week of November as well - Dana Stephenson against Colorado on November 1st, 1969, and Joe Blahak against Kansas State on November 14th, 1970.

O'Hanlon had a career-high 12 tackles against Oklahoma, include nine solo tackles. While his three interceptions all came in the second half, nine of his tackles were in the first half, so you might say he spent the first half getting warmed up. He stopped Oklahoma from scoring with his interceptions coming at the NU 25, NU 19, and at the NU six-yard line to seal the game.

Kicker/Punter Alex Henery had a masterful game. I'm surprised that more hasn't been written this week about him. He was not selected as Big 12 Special Teams player this week. Texas A&M's Cyrus Gray got that honor for returning a kick 99 yards for a touchdown, and another for 45 yards for the Aggies final score in a game in which they lost to Colorado. I guess it's more important that you score rather than recognize the value of field position in a field position-based game.

Fans don't recognize the value of punting as easily as they would O'Hanlon's interceptions, but as far as the game went, they were just as valuable. Henery consistently punted the Huskers out of trouble, and for the most part kept Oklahoma's dangerous playmaker Ryan Broyles out of the game. Henery had two punts downed inside the 20, including the 66-yarder (mentioned in the postgame overreaction article) that flipped field position in Nebraska's favor. He would have had two more punts inside the 20 had it not been for returns.

Here's Henery's work as a punter against Oklahoma (I only listed return yardage where the ball moved past the 20):

from the 16 for 43 yards
from the 11 for 44 yards
from the 30 for 35 yards
from the 32 for 66 yards, downed at the two-yard line
from the OU 42 for 34 yards, downed at the eight-yard line
from the 31 for 39 yards - out of bounds at the OU 30
from the 40 for 43 yards to the OU 17, returned to the 29-yard line.
from the 11 for 48 yards to the OU 41
from the 27 for 44 yards to the OU 29, out of bounds
from the 33 for 42 yards to the OU 25
from the 41 for 43 yards to the OU 16, returned 35 yards to the NU 49-yard line.

His performance against Oklahoma gives him 19 punts downed inside the 20 this season. He was leading the Big 12 in that category before the game (Still is, depending upon whether you go by number or percentage).

Unfortunately, Henery broke his streak of 25 straight field goals of less than 50 yards when he missed a 43-yarder in the fourth quarter. He did hit a 28-yarder in the third quarter to extend Nebraska's lead. Between the two field goals he is 12-for-15 on the season and 38-for-44 for his career. 

Henery is an incredible weapon on a team desperately looking for them. He deserves more recognition than he's getting. 

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