Nebraska has parted ways with special teams analyst Jonathan Rutledge.
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Nebraska parts ways with special teams analyst Jonathan Rutledge

Nebraska will take on a new approach with special teams for the third year in a row.

HuskerOnline has confirmed that NU has parted ways with special teams analyst Jonathan Rutledge, who came to Lincoln after stints at both Auburn and Missouri.

Instead of assigning special team duties to a full-time assistant in 2020, head coach Scott Frost chose the route of hiring an analyst to handle the duties. Rutledge was paid a salary of $150,000, and he took over the duties from former outside linebackers coach Jovan Dewitt, who left Nebraska for North Carolina after the 2019 season.

Nebraska has parted ways with special teams analyst Jonathan Rutledge.
Nebraska has parted ways with special teams analyst Jonathan Rutledge. (Huskers.com)

Dewitt was replaced by Mike Dawson, but they did not give the special teams duties to another full-time assistant coach.

Originally, it appeared former Kansas State and now USC special teams coordinator Sean Synder was going to get the job, but the full-time opportunity came his way in Los Angeles. That led NU to Rutledge, who brought in LSU kicker Connor Culp and Australian punter Daniel Cerni.

Culp was named the Big Ten's kicker of the year in 2020, but other than that, Nebraska's special teams play was ranked towards the bottom of the conference in several key metrics. The Huskers ranked 13th in the league in average starting field position after kickoffs, as teams started at the 28.9-yard line.

In net punting, NU ranked 12th in the league at 35.2 yards, just ahead of the two last-placed teams who were at 35.1 yards. The Huskers had just eight punts placed inside the 20-yard line, which ranked 12th in the Big Ten for starting punters. They allowed 15.9 yards per punt return, which was the third-most allowed by any team in the conference.

Nebraska also had a punt blocked in 2020, gave up a kick return for a touchdown and two different teams converted fake punts on the Big Red this past season. NU's long kick return of the season was 29 yards, while they had only one punt return of note that went for 27 yards at Purdue.

Often times the Huskers failed to cross the 20-yard line on their attempted kick returns.

In the Big Red's season finale at Rutgers, it was their kick coverage that was the issue. The Huskers gave up a kick return for a touchdown and the Scarlet Knights returned multiple pooch punts to midfield where walk-on wide receivers were the primary tacklers in the area to make the play, while the other side of the unit had some of NU's best defensive players.

None the less, Frost is blowing things up again with Nebraska's approach to special teams in 2021. The question is will the duties be handed off again to another full-time coach, or will another analyst be hired?