Among the myriad reasons so many of us watch sports is to see athletic achievement at its finest, to witness a well-executed play. But sports can also demonstrate examples of what not to do, providing teachable moments or just flat-out funny moments.
Wyoming punter Tim Zaleski provided a moment that could either be a cautionary tale or fodder for frequent derision by teammates and coaches (and sports highlight reels) during the Cowboys’ season opener at Iowa. Late in the second quarter, with Wyoming down 7-3, the true freshman just needed to connect on a punt, push the Hawkeyes down the field and essentially end the first half.
Instead, Zaleski completely whiffed on his kick, looking like someone who may have tried punting for the first time in gym class. Bobbling the ball in his right hand as he was set to kick, he missed the ball and it fell to the turf, quickly recovered by Iowa’s Devonte Young. Take a look at the play.
Zaleski’s swing-and-miss was especially costly for Wyoming. Given excellent field position with the botched punt, Iowa took the generous gift and scored a touchdown two plays later on a 27-yard pass from Nate Stanley to Noah Fant. Rather than going into halftime behind 7-3 on the road in a Big Ten stadium, Wyoming went into the locker room with a 14-3 deficit.
That’s a tough moment for a freshman to take, essentially costing his team seven points in a game where Wyoming was already an underdog. But jitters and mistakes can be expected in the first game of a season. They just might be a bit more difficult to deal with when such plays are replayed again and again throughout the sports blogosphere and on highlight shows during the day.
Wyoming is still down 14-3 to Iowa in the third quarter as of this writing. Maybe Zaleski’s Cowboys teammates can pick him up a bit in the second half.