CU’s Brian Lockridge watches the ball get away from him on a kickoff return during Friday’s game against Nebraska.
CU's Brian Lockridge watches the ball get away from him on a kickoff return during Friday's game against Nebraska.
Dan Hawkins is safe for another year.

But Kent Riddle put himself on the hot seat after Colorado`s 28-20 loss to Nebraska on Friday at Folsom Field.

CU`s special teams coach described the performance of his units during the 2009 season as "poor" overall.

That was certainly the case against the Cornhuskers, who were allowed to get off to a fast start with a 59-yard punt return by Niles Paul for the first touchdown of the game and let off the hook by two missed Aric Goodman field goals in crunch time.

"We had some positive moments and did some good things, but we gave up way too many big plays. Way too many," Riddle said. "One is too many. We have to understand that."

A year earlier, the Huskers defeated CU on a 57-yard field goal by Alex Henery. This time the versatile kicker kept the Buffs offense pinned deep in its own territory all afternoon, averaging 50.7 yards on six punts with four placed inside the 20.

"You can`t look past anybody. We were a couple missed field goals away from losing the football game," Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said. "We`re a lot better than we showed out there today."

Pelini said his punt return team was in block formation, and Paul simply made his own play on the touchdown that gave the visitors a 7-0 lead with 3:34 remaining in the first quarter.

"We would have liked (the punt) to be a little higher, but we missed at least three tackles. We`ve got to make those plays," Riddle said. "It`s extremely disappointing."

Goodman`s struggles wearing the black and gold continued with misses from 52 and 37 yards in the second half when the Buffs had a chance to close a 21-14 deficit to 21-20.

Zach Grossnickle, who redshirted this season, and walk-on Ryan Aweida will challenge Goodman for the place-kicking duties next season.

"Kick, kick, kick," Riddle said when asked how Goodman, who has a very strong leg and is accurate in practice, can become a more consistent player. "And competition."

If the Buffs are going to make any progress on the scoreboard next season they`re going to have to get better on special teams.

"We`re going to get there, just like this team is going to get there," Riddle said.