Nebraska Head Coach Mike Riley won his 100th career game with a 43-10 win against Fresno State. The Huskers also have something this season that they didn't have all of last: a winning record. Here are my thoughts on tonight's game:
Sam Foltz tribute
I'll start by saying, the tribute to Sam Foltz, Nebraska's senior punter who was killed in a car accident during the offseason, was probably the best thing I've ever seen in a college football game.
The Huskers lined up for their first punt without a punter, and with each player going down on one knee. Nebraska kicker Drew Brown pointed towards the sky, Fresno State players applauded, and Memorial Stadium had collective goose bumps. The Huskers took the delay of game penalty, but Fresno declined.
Nebraska has always handled these situations with such class, e.g. Jack Hoffman's spring game touchdown.
What a rush
Danny Langsdorf heard your complaints, he received your letters, and he answered your prayers Husker fans. The Huskers ran the ball on 20 of its first 21 plays from scrimmage, and fans around Memorial Stadium exhaled.
Devine Ozigbo looked like the human bowling ball that he is, scoring the first two Nebraska touchdowns. He finished the game with 17 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Ozigbo looked like "the guy" for Nebraska out of the backfield.
Tre Bryant made his debut as a Husker late in the fourth quarter, scoring a touchdown with just over four minutes remaining. This guy is going to have a bright future as a Husker.
Overall, the Huskers absolutely wore down the Fresno State defense with body blow after body blow. The Huskers finished the game with 292 yards, and only 10 passes by Tommy Armstrong. Not exactly balanced, but the attack played well to the strengths of the team.
Defensively, the Huskers came out fired up. They caught a lucky break with a missed field goal, but also caught some bad-breaks with a questionable targeting call on Luke Gifford, which landed him back in the locker room for the rest of the game.
The front four looked decent in run defense, but got little to no pressure on the quarterback. This forced the secondary to bring pressure, which left holes in the defensive backfield early. Once the Huskers settled down and started better-disguising their blitzes, things came together.
True freshman Lamar Jackson was picked on repeatedly by Fresno State quarterback Chason Virgil which caused problems for the Huskers early. This was great in-game experience for the young cornerback. Look for Jackson to improve as the season goes on.
The up-tempo offense definitely cause some major confusion in the secondary early on. They'll need to address that before the meeting with Oregon, because I promise you, that offense will be much, much faster.
Kieron Williams played like he wanted that Blackshirt he wasn't awarded this week. He was a fire-plug for the Nebraska defense, swarming to the ball like a heat-seeking missile. He finished the game with ten total tackles and an interception. He might just find that Blackshirt hanging in his locker later this week.
Penalties and miscues
Targeting is not a word the Huskers have become fond of. Luke Gifford was tossed from the game after colliding with Virgil along the sideline and the fans in attendance were less than pleased. The hit looked like it came from the shoulder pad, but with the NCAA cracking down on safety, you can never be too sure.
Another targeting call came with just over a minute left in the game when Aaron Williams collided with a Fresno receiver over the middle, knocking the ball loose. There was helmet-to-helmet contact, but the officials overturned the call. The targeting rule needs to be revisited. Again.
Overall, a solid team win for the Huskers. Next week, Nebraska battles Wyoming in an 11 a.m. matchup at Memorial Stadium.
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