Cameron Hausman’s first collegiate punt didn’t go as he envisioned.

In fact, it was awful.

Fortunately for Minnesota Duluth, Hausman’s career has bounced back like a well-placed coffin corner kick. Hausman is averaging 34.8 yards per punt going into the NSIC North Division opener between UMD (3-1) and Minnesota State-

Moorhead (2-2) at

1:05 p.m. today at Malosky Stadium. Not counting his 11-yard shank in UMD’s season-opening 42-38 loss at Southwest Minnesota State, Hausman would be averaging 39.6 yards per punt.

Hausman also took over the Bulldogs’ field-goal kicking duties in Week 2 and has connected on 3 of 4 attempts, including a 41-yarder, while making 12 of 13 PATs.

Hausman, of New Richmond, Wis., is one of three true freshmen playing for the Bulldogs, joining running back Jaleen Jones (Urbana, Ill.) and Bishop McDonald (Oakdale, Minn.). Unlike the latter two, Hausman knew he’d play right away after the Bulldogs graduated Andrew Brees.

“I knew what I was getting into,” Hausman said. “So it was just a matter of getting more game reps.”

Hausman didn’t get a chance for any game reps before his 11-yarder in the opener. That was his only punt of the game, and UMD wanted the punt off quickly, out of bounds and toward the corner. In this case, two out of three was bad as Hausman kicked it quickly, and it went out of bounds - but off the side of his foot and nowhere near the corner.

“I had too much time to think about it,” Hausman said. “I wished I would have gotten a punt earlier in the game, just to get the feel for it, and we called a different style of punt thinking they would be bringing a lot of pressure, but I’m not going to make a bunch of excuses for it. That was on me. Once I got that out of the way, I knew, all I could do is go up from here.”

UMD coach Curt Wiese acknowledged it wasn’t a fair situation to put Hausman in.

“We probably should have done something different to help protect him,” Wiese said. “But unfortunately, you can’t go back on it.”

Jones and McDonald, meanwhile, also have played. Jones, 5-foot-8 and 195 pounds, has rushed the ball two times backing up Darren Walker and Beau Bofferding. Playing Jones became necessary after injuries to running backs Keith Anthony and Kyle Webb. Anthony, a transfer from Laney College in Oakland, Calif., is hoping to be back this week.

“Our intent is to not have Darren go over 20 carries a game, and Jaleen gives us another option,” Wiese said. “Jaleen has the athleticism, speed and power to do it, but it’s tough mentally. He’s a sharp kid, but there’s a lot on his plate.”

McDonald has seven tackles after tying for a team-high six tackles in the Bulldogs’ 41-38 victory over then-No. 16 Augustana last week. He also had a fumble recovery. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound McDonald was Minnesota’s large-school prep leader with 12 interceptions for North (St. Paul) High School last fall. UMD likes his ability to match up with bigger receivers.

“Bishop is a longer kid and very athletic, while Cameron has done better each week,” Wiese said. “He’s more comfortable with our scheme, and with the college game and the speed of it. He’s extremely consistent. He has a lot of upside as a specialist.”

Senior Tyler McLaughlin initially handled field goal and PAT kicks this fall but struggled with his accuracy and consistency. McLaughlin continues to handle UMD’s kickoff duties, showing better hang time and placement than Hausman.

“Tyler earned that spot,” Hausman said. “We’re both playing a big part for our special teams, so it’s all good.”

UMD’s tradition of kickers is almost as strong as that of quarterbacks. Brees, David Nadeau, Britt Baumann and Chad Gerlach all excelled for the Bulldogs over the past 20 years. Nadeau, known for his game-winning kick in the 2010 NCAA Division II championship game, earned a tryout with the Green Bay Packers.

Hausman knew little about that tradition in high school, mostly watching Division I football, but the more he learned about the Bulldogs, the more he liked. He was recruited by Division III schools, but UMD quickly emerged from the D-II pack.

“Duluth really sold me on how committed they were,” Hausman said. “We take big pride in our special teams, and you can tell by how the coaches prepare for it. It’s a focus, and not just a part of the game. It’s a winning culture here. It’s a D-II program that’s run like a D-I.”

At 6-foot and 240 pounds, Hausman is a kicker in the mold of the Oakland Raiders’ Sebastian Janikowski, an apt comparison.

“I have fun with it,” Hausman said. “I know who I am.”

In addition to handling punts and kicks for four seasons for New Richmond, he also served as a backup tight end/receiver. Hausman pitched in baseball and was a power forward in basketball.

“I always had the bigger guys guarding me,” he said.

Hausman’s career-long field goal is 48 yards, and career-long punt nearly 70 yards, but don’t expect him to get too many opportunities with the Bulldogs.

Punting at UMD is like that of the lonely Maytag repairman. The Bulldogs are averaging 41 points per game, and Hausman has only punted six times in four games.

He’s fine with that.

“It was definitely a change coming to UMD from high school, where I handled all the kicks and punts,” Hausman said. “That first game, I was just kind of standing there. It was weird. You’re waiting for your moment, but you don’t really want that moment to come because that means the offense was stopped. We have such a potent offense, as a punter, you’re not going to see the field too much - and that’s a good thing.”