LINCOLN -- Matt Farniok finally played, and he played well.
Well enough to earn a shoutout from the Fox broadcast crew during Saturday's loss at Oregon. Well enough to get singled out by NU coach Mike Riley at Monday's news conference.
The key now, the young offensive lineman said, is not to let one good game get in the way of continued progress.
"I'm always a little harder on myself, so I tend to stick to the negatives — on this play I leaned too much or my punch was late or I was too high off the ball," the redshirt freshman said Monday. "But I think I did a decent job, and now I've just got to grow from it.
The 6-foot 6, 315-pounder from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, started at right tackle in place of injured senior David Knevel, and it looks like he won't be leaving the lineup soon as it was announced Monday that Knevel is doubtful for Saturday's game against Northern Illinois and will be week-to-week going forward.
So the the chance to earn his stripes in front of one of the most hostile crowds in the nation at Autzen Stadium came at a good time. Farniok said he was at his most nervous as Nebraska lined up for its first offensive snap.
"Everything was just at that moment — 'I'm actually playing. I'm playing on Oregon's field. It's awesome.' That's about the only way I can describe it," Farniok said. "I feel like it's only going to get easier from a nerves standpoint, from being kind of thrown into the fire at Oregon. It's not really an easy place to start at. And I feel like once I was able to kind of control my nerves there, now as I progress and keep going it'll be a lot easier to stay calm."
Farniok said the nerves lasted through the week of practice leading up to the game, but that Knevel, NU's other experienced linemen and quarterback Tanner Lee played a key role in helping to keep his emotions in check.
"They were all like, 'Hey, we're just playing football. You were recruited for this and this is why you're here,'" Farniok said.
Perhaps the most coveted recruit in Nebraska's crop of young linemen, Farniok paved the way for Mikale Wilbon's touchdown late in the fourth quarter, pancaking an Oregon defender with fullback Luke McNitt and Wilbon close behind on the touchdown that made it a 42-35 game.
"That was probably my favorite play of the day," Farniok said. "Those (goal-line plays) are always my favorite because those are what I feel like I thrive in."
Riley, the man in charge, said the Huskers need to learn from the loss. But he also expressed optimism for the offensive line's future with Farniok in the lineup.
"Matt Farniok goes in and plays, plays pretty well. That helps our team now, helps us as we go down the road. So we feel good about that," Riley said.