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Brown has career-best

BY CURT McKEEVERLincoln Journal Star

MANHATTAN, Kan. Nebraska Sports Information officials added Jamel Williams to a list of NU football players being touted for national honors after the linebacker had a big game against Arizona State a couple weeks ago.
Saturday, during the Cornhuskers' 39-3 whipping of Kansas State, the list grew again.
Sophomore kicker Kris Brown booted four field goals to give the Cornhuskers key points against a savvy defense, then kept the Kansas State offense pinned back by sending five of his eight kickoffs either through the end zone or far enough back that they were unreturnable.
"We knew coming into this week the kicking game was going to be a tremendous part of the game," said Brown. "We felt we had to win the kicking game if we were going to win, period."
Brown, who made 13 of 16 field goals last year, started his best, single-game performance with a 45-yarder on Nebraska's first possession of the contest. His kick marked just the second time this season Kansas State had allowed points in the first quarter.
Brown added a 27-yarder with three minutes left in the quarter, and one from 28 yards with 2:48 left in the first half. That gave the Cornhuskers a comfortable 15-3 lead, but after the NU defense forced a punt, Brown added to the Wildcats' anguish by nailing a 50-yarder into a strong breeze on the final play of the half.
"That was a really big one," Brown said. "Obviously, we don't have anything to lose, there's only three seconds left, (but) it was just a psychological boost for us because it really just gave us the momentum going into the second half."
Brown barely missed hitting a fifth field goal when a 34-yard try in the third quarter missed just right. The four-for-five outing left him seven for eight on the season.
So what's the secret to that success? Simplicity.
"I don't mess around with stuff like that, I just go kick the ball," said Brown after being asked to talk about how he deals with different angles, wind conditions and distances on the field. "Really, it's such a simple thing to do, it's such a simple skill you've just got to strike the ball and swing through the ball.
"I think the more you put into every kick, the more complicated it becomes, the more things could go wrong. So I just wanted to go out there and strike the ball real well and stick it through the uprights. Fortunately that's what I did except for one, and I'll bounce back from it."
Before he attempts field goals, Brown goes through a ritual of picking out his spot for the holder, looking beyond the uprights for an aiming point and stepping off his stride.
Then, "I just take a really deep breath," he said. "And after I look up and start my steps I never look back up again because really there's no use I know where I'm going to kick the ball."
While that formula has worked to help take some steam out of Nebraska opponents, Brown deviated from another normal routine in an effort to try and crank up some of his teammates.
During two-a-day practices in August, he joined some defensive linemen in getting his hair buzzed cut.
"Unity is something we talk about a lot here and I guess some of the defensive players decided they wanted to shave my head. I didn't want to at first. . . (but) it was one of those things that I want my teammates to know I'm going to do everything I can to get my job done and give it all I've got. This is just a way for me to show them that I'm just as crazy as everybody else."
With a leg like Brown's, no one's complaining.
"At least I've got the defensive line's respect," he said.
If he keeps going like he has been, that list, too, will grow.
"Jesse (Kosch) and I believe we're the best punter and placekicker in the nation," Brown said. "I said at the beginning of the year I wanted to do better than last year. Right now I'm on track."

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