You probably couldn't have written a better script for a game than the one played tonight in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska struggled a bit in the first half, came out smoking at the beginning of the second, and a whole bunch of second stringers got plenty of action in the fourth quarter because a defeated opponent lead to a lopsided score.
Florida Atlantic did a decent job of moving the ball in the first half, using a bevy of screens and misdirection plays to keep the Husker defense off-balance, but the Owls couldn't punch the ball in the end zone. One field goal was blocked as Ndamukong Suh collapsed the interior of the Owls line. On another series, Florida Atlantic had a first and goal inside the Nebraska five, but had to settle for a field goal.
Nebraska had the game won at the end of the first half, holding a 21-3 lead, but it was a somewhat sloppy lead. However, Husker football season started in earnest at the beginning of the second half as Nebraska marched down the field, scoring in four plays as Roy Helu Jr apparently decided he'd turn the quarter into his own personal show of talent. Helu carried the ball 16 times in the game for 152 yards and three touchdowns, with 95 yards on five carries and two touchdowns coming in the third quarter.
The stats will show a Nebraska butt-kicking, and a butt-kicking it was, but as Bo Pelini stated in his post game radio show, there is a lot to work on. Still, for the first game of the season and playing so many young players - the Husker crowd had to leave feeling pretty darned good about the beginning of this season.
More notes after the jump.....
Short Notes and Observations:
- Zac Lee looked like a guy starting his first game. He stared down his receivers at times, and threw behind them on a few passes when not under pressure. Having said that, he finished the night 15 of 22 for 213 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Am I nitpicking? Yes. But I'm guessing Bo Pelini and Shawn Watson will be as well.
- Coming into the season, the knock on Curenski Gilleylen was that he didn't have good hands. He must have had a transplant during the off-season because he was one of the surprise players for the game. He had a beautiful 51-yard reception for TD in the second quarter, finishing the game with four receptions and 92 yards. Not too bad for a guy that can't catch the ball.
- The other surprise - Menelik Holt. Earlier we were told Niles Paul was the clear leader of the receivers, yet Holt did a good job of getting open and moving the chains, finishing with three receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown.
- Youth was served. Rex Burkhead got nine carries on the night, finishing with 39 yards and his first career touchdown. Cody Green got into the game in the fourth quarter with a mighty cheer from the Sea of Red. His first series was a three and out, but his second proved that fans can be excited about him as a backup as he shook off some tackles on a 49-yard run that set up a fourth quarter touchdown. Like Burkhead, he scored his first career touchdown on a fourth down option play, finishing the night with two carries for 50 yards and a touchdown. True freshman Eric Martin played, his biggest play being a *very* questionable personal foul penalty - one of those where a player is penalized for hitting too hard.
- It wasn't like the Florida Atlantic offense didn't exist, but every time they got something going, they shot themselves in the foot. I'm not sure how many false start penalties they had, but it was a gob, most caused by another sold-out Husker crowd excited to watch the first game of the season.
- Hopefully Howard Schnellenberger is okay. He got up after being nailed out of bounds during a tackle, and didn't show any problems as he walked off the field after the game.