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The Morning After: Arkansas State

You better believe the hot takes are here after last night’s thrilling Nebraska win

NCAA Football: Arkansas State at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Shatel, Omaha World-Herald: On a nervous first night, Tre’ Bryant is Nebraska’s #1 weapon

The good news is Nebraska won its opener, 43-36, over Arkansas State. But it was a good showing in many other ways on a wild and crazy night at Memorial Stadium.

For instance, the Huskers got a lot of work on pass defense. They got to work on their onside kick unit. They found out what it was like to be pushed to the last play and almost got to work on their overtime game.

Maybe next time.

There was very good news in running back Tre Bryant emerging as a dominant force and chairman of the running back committee. In fact, with 31 carries for 192 yards, Mr. Chairman all but dissolved the committee.

Steven Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Bob Diaco warned of growing pains, and he got that part right

Nebraska defensive coordinator Bob Diaco sounded a warning early last week, but perhaps Husker fans declined to listen.

After all, hope abounds in August. Everybody has a clean slate.

But let's be real: Nebraska's slate, after its 43-36 escape against Arkansas State on Saturday night, has some muck on it.

Diaco's defense needs serious work.

Hey, he warned us. The first-year Husker assistant made no bones last week that growing pains in his 3-4 system were a possibility.

"Game experience is invaluable," he said. "As you gain game experience, you can't help but get better and better. Practices are great, but playing in games is priceless. So, the evolution of the defense is going to be profound, and it'll never stop."

Dirk Chatelain, Omaha WH: Diaco’s defense on red alert after Red Wolves roll Huskers for 497 yards

This is what you waited eight months for, right? A four-hour, fist-clenching, teeth-grinding, nail-biting, pull-your-hair-out horror flick? No, of course not. You expected Bob Diaco to storm into Lincoln like Bo Pelini Jr.

In 2003, Pelini took over a defense in crisis and held Oklahoma State to a single touchdown. Those were different days, man. The program is in a different place. The players have short memories, though. Linebacker Luke Gifford said the defense was ready for that final drive — and the final play.

“It’s do-or-die,” Gifford said. “We love that. That’s what we live for. We preach that. When we get that opportunity, it’s like, alright, it’s game on. Let’s get it.”

Arkansas State quarterback Justice Hansen took the snap, rolled right as the clock hit zeroes and lofted his 68th pass of the night ... just over the outstretched arms of his receiver. Fireworks blasted above the north end zone. As defenders pulled off their helmets, few celebrated. Most simply exhaled. Coaches, too.

Alex Kirshner, SBNation: Here’s how close Arkansas State came to taking Nebraska to OT

As plucky as A-State is, little about Saturday’s result will shake the notion that Nebraska’s due for a rebuilding year. Tulane transfer Tanner Lee was solid at quarterback (238 yards and two scores on 32 passes), and running back Tre Bryant tore it up. But the defense was uninspiring against what wasn’t a great offense in 2016, and getting taken all the way to the wire by a Sun Belt team at home isn’t the most inspiring thing.

Terry Douglas, Grand Island Independent: Shaky NU defense makes final stand

Husker sophomore defensive back Eric Lee couldn’t recall what coverage Nebraska was in for the final play — only the end result.

“It was all a little blurry,” Lee said. “All I remember is that we just trying to prevent the guy from getting into the end zone, obviously.

“Coach Diaco talked about how there’s nothing better than to have the defense come out there and win the game for us. We kind of kept that in our heads and came out with the W.”

Chatelain, OWH: New-look Husker wideouts silence critics by flashing speed, big-play ability

The Memorial Stadium video boards flashed a cool, new feature during a second-quarter timeout Saturday. A shoutout to the program’s least prestigious position group.


From Johnny Rodgers dancing through Oklahoma’s punt coverage to Jordan Westerkamp snagging a ball behind his back, the HuskerVision montage resembled a recruiting presentation. Because it was, of course.

Among Nebraska’s unofficial visitors was a highly touted receiver from California, Isaah Crocker. The montage, after rolling through Nebraska’s standout alums, ended with a bold question:

“Who’s next?”

We don’t know — and that’s one of the best things that came out of Nebraska’s season opener.