In closing preparations for Saturday’s nationally-televised game against No. 17 Missouri, the No. 25 Nebraska football team focused Thursday on controlling field position by continuing its success in the punting game and limiting turnovers, especially early in the game.

The Huskers rank first in the Big 12 by average 37.7 net yards per punt.  While junior punter Dan Titchener has been key to Nebraska’s punting success, head coach Bill Callahan also highlighted the efforts of long snapper T.J. O’Leary in helping the Huskers in the punting game. 

“That snap and the consistency of that snap coming on-line in the frame of that body is so important to the punter’s rhythm,” Callahan said after Nebraska’s two-and-a-half hour workout in shoulder pads and shorts at Memorial Stadium.  “If you don’t have that rhythm and you’re spraying snaps all over, it can really affect a guy mentally.  We’ve been really fortunate that we’ve had not only an outstanding punter, but an outstanding snapper as well.”

While emphasizing O’Leary’s efforts in the punting game, Callahan also noted Titchener’s consistency as a key component in the punting game.  Titchner has pinned NU foes inside the 20-yard line six times on 20 punts this year. 

“We couldn’t ask for anything more than what he’s given,” Callahan said.  “He’s been really consistent in terms of his hang time and his ability to punt the ball up and let the net get under it.  He’s done some directional (punting) where he’s moved the return man in a lot of instances.  The most impressive thing he’s done is pin the opponent inside the 20.”

While Nebraska has thrived in the punting game this season, turnovers, especially in early in the game, have been a concern as NU tries to control field position.

“I think that’s been a little bit of a concern for us early, that we have great ball security and make great decisions with the ball in our hand, early in the game,” head coach Bill Callahan said.   

Early turnovers were an issue for Nebraska against Iowa State last Saturday, as the Huskers’ first three drives of the game ended with turnovers.  Through four games, Missouri ranks second in the Big 12 in turnover margin and third in turnovers forced with 11 on the year. 

“We have to be really conscious of that (ball security) and really protective of the ball,” Callahan said.  “I think our guys are really in tune with that.” 

Nebraska will depart for Columbia, Mo., Friday afternoon before Saturday’s 8:15 p.m. game against No. 17 Missouri that will be shown nationally on ESPN.