LINCOLN – Alonzo Moore knew the rule when he scooped up Sam Foltz’s 67-yard punt near his own goal line late in the first quarter of the BYU game and carried the ball into the end zone.
Because he had possession, the ball was placed at the 1-yard line.
Nebraska receivers coach Keith Williams thought Moore “should have thrown it back, but when they (officials) said it was good, I guess he knew more than me,” Williams said.
Initially, the officials ruled a touchback, which would have put the ball on the 20-yard line. But the play was reviewed and the ball spotted inside the 1 because Moore had possession.
Moore was upset with the touchback call. “It kind of got me heated to where I may have said a couple of words I shouldn’t have said. I’m sorry, Mom,” he said with a smile.
“But, I mean, I knew the rule.”
BYU would drive 99 yards for a touchdown to tie the score at 7. But the point here is that Moore, a wide receiver, was the first man down the field on the punt team.
A wide receiver on special teams? “I have rarely in my life had many do this,” said coach Mike Riley.
“He’s just a football player. I mean, we could probably put him over there at safety and he’d be fine. He just plays football, and those guys tend to find their way on the field.”
Moore asked to be on all of the special teams. “I wanted to help my team as best I could,” he said. “If that’s by (being on) a special team and playing my role, I want to do it.”
His role is more than that, of course. On Nebraska’s next possession, he made a diving catch for 19 yards at the BYU 22-yard line, then caught a swing pass on the other side of the field, eluded Cougar defensive back Matthew Hadley and ran the final 15 yards, untouched, for a touchdown.
The play illustrated one of Williams’ rules for the receivers: Make the first man miss.
“If you don’t, you’ll probably come out of the game,” Williams said. “At running back you can make the first man miss and still only gain one yard because of the confined area in which you’re running, but if make the first man miss at wide receiver, you might only need to make one more miss for a touchdown.
“And so making one miss at wideout can potentially lead to a great play.”
Moore got the ball on consecutive plays earlier in the first quarter, on Nebraska’s first touchdown drive, catching a pass for 7 yards then running for 13 on a jet sweep.
“I thought he was great,” offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said. “He got a little nicked in the game, but I thought he . . . started the game with a great run, sweep. I thought he caught the ball well. I thought he looked real polished and real confident playing.”
He has “come a long way since fall camp,” said Langsdorf. “He’s grown a ton in three weeks.”
Moore was helped from the field with a foot injury two plays before the back-to-back catches, the second for a touchdown. He came to post-game interviews in a boot on the right foot.
“During the game it was kind of hurting me a lot,” Moore said following Tuesday’s practice. “I ran another jet sweep and then I noticed, ‘Hey, it’s not pain; it’s a real injury.’”
He gained 11 yards on the second sweep, early in the second quarter, then left the game.
“I’m feeling better. My foot (is) actually doing good now,” he said on Tuesday.
Moore and Williams, “Coach Dub,” have established a bond. “He brings a lot out of all the guys,” said Moore. “He makes us laugh, when to be serious. I mean, it’s just a lot of fun.”
He and Moore “are very close,” Williams said.
Seeing him down the ball inside the 1-yard line “fired me up,” said Williams. “We take pride in the wideout room of any wideout that’s on special teams making plays like that.”
Moore knew the rule.
“He did,” Williams said. And “he’ll let you know what he knows.”