Rapid Reaction: Nebraska rebounds vs. South Alabama
Final: Nebraska 48, South Alabama 9
Telling stat: South Alabama’s 19 rushing yards
In the Jaguars’ defense, it’s hard to run the ball a whole lot when you’re trailing the entire game. Still, it was a rough go when they did try. Just 10 first-half yards on the ground was indicative of a rough day for the South Alabama front. Xavier Johnson was USA’s best chance to break a big play or two, but he was bottled up all night against the Nebraska’s D-line. Michael Rose-Ivey also established his presence as a run-stopper in his first game back from suspension. The Huskers could use a whole lot more of that.
Key play: Nate Gerry gets interception on first series
There might not be a better ball-hawk at the safety position than Gerry. Once again, he came up with a big interception. Sure, it was on the first series, but that had to be a welcome sight early after the way last week ended. He should’ve had the play of the game last week when his interception woke up the Nebraska offense in the second half. This week, he got the Huskers going a bit earlier.
-Terrell Newby’s career day
If there was ever a time for the first-year starter to have a day, it was Saturday. Against a weak South Alabama front, Newby went off for career high’s in carries and rushing yards…in the first half. He also hauled in his first career receiving touchdown, doing his best Ameer Abdullah imitation. Yes, it was only South Alabama, but it had to be an encouraging sign to see Newby find some running ways and finish with 236 total yards from scrimmage. Imani Cross didn’t even have a carry until his spinning touchdown run in the third quarter. Mike Riley might be developing more confidence in Newby to be a three-down back, which would be huge for the Huskers.
-Lane Hovey also has career day
Speaking of guys who set career marks in the first half. The junior receiver had four catches for 64 yards in the first half of Nebraska’s rout. The former walk-on was Armstrong’s go-to target when he got in trouble early. He had no problem throwing it up to the 6-4 Hovey. With De’Mornay Pierson-El possibly still out for another month, the Huskers are in need of any and all playmakers on the outside. Against some smaller defensive backs, Hovey showed he’s capable of making some big-time catches.
What it means: Nebraska can get back to reality
The Huskers couldn’t afford to win this game by anything less than three touchdowns. It’s still hard to believe that the Mike Riley era opened in such gut-wrenching fashion. Saturday might not have washed away that memory, but it at least provided a different image of this team as it prepares for Big Ten play. And hey, Riley is on the board.
What’s next: vs. Miami
But before the Huskers can’t look a few weeks ahead, they have a tough trip to Miami ahead. The Hurricanes hung around for far too long in last year’s meeting because of Brad Kaaya. He’ll give the Nebraska defense plenty of homework before the Huskers make their lone non-conference road trip.