April 20, 2014

Huskers win Homecoming, Big Ten opener 39-19

Nebraska's defense lines up for a last-ditch effort from quarterback Nate Scheelhaause and Illinois' offense. Huskers win its Big Ten opener, 39-19.

Nebraska’s defense lines up for a last-ditch effort from quarterback Nate Scheelhaause and Illinois’ offense. Huskers win its Big Ten opener, 39-19.

It was a very windy, chilly morning at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

After all, it was the first time Nebraska and Illinois have faced off as Big Ten foes. It’s was also the first time since the 80s these two teams played. Throw in the strange weather and another game without Nebraska’s four-year general (Taylor Martinez)… pre-game had that strange feel to it.

When all was said and done, the Huskers wrapped up another conference opener with some big plays on defense and offense – defeating the Fighting Illini 39-19, and sealing another Homecoming win. [Read more...]

Huskers, Fighting Illini open Big Ten play today

It’s a chilly, windy day in Lincoln as Nebraska and Illinois are set for early Big Ten action.

The Huskers and Illini will meet for the first time as conference foes. Huskers hold a 7-2-1 series lead, including a 59-14 win in Campaign. That last meeting was in 1986.

The last time these two teams played in Lincoln was in 1924… Illinois won that game 9-6.

It’s safe to say the Huskers and Illini are strangers, and there will not be a 9-6 final. However, the Blackshirts should get very familiar with quarterback Nate Scheelhaase. The play maker has helped lead a resurgent Illinois team to a 3-1 record on the season, behind 1,162 passing yards and 12 touchdowns.

Defense needs to be ready. The Huskers face a very threatening offense, lead Scheelhaase and company. Mistakes the last four games – and a loss to UCLA – have fans hopeful of an iron-out during the bye week. Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste is hopeful of a big day on the field. An interception will extend his streak of five games in a row.

Offensively, redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. gets the start for the Huskers. It was announced earlier in the week that senior Taylor Martinez is still recovering from tuft toe. Armstrong is likely to share snaps with Ron Kellogg III. The duo will need the support of a solid running back tandem (Ameer Abdullah, Amani Cross) to break through an Illinois defense that has struggled this season.

Huskers and Fighting Illini kick off at 11:00 am today. As always, nebraskaradionetwork.com will have post-game audio and reaction following the game from Lincoln.

Jackrabbits thumped: Crazy week ends with a Husker win

To say it was a tumultuous week is an understatement. A heartbreaking loss to UCLA, a leaked Bo Pelini audio and criticism of the coaching staff from fans and former players.

The best remedy: Win… and win convincingly.

That’s what Nebraska did Saturday. The Huskers thumped South Dakota State in a 59-20 win.

While the final score was very convincing, head coach Bo Pelini was disappointed in the defense – calling the performance the worst he has seen.

“There has to be a sense of urgency,” Pelini says. “A big part of playing defense is having an attitude and right now, we don’t have that right attitude.”

A killer instinct. The attitude missing with this defense, according to Pelini. He adds that it is tiring to see the defense struggling.

“We need to get this thing fixed.”

The first quarter was not a good start for the Blackshirts, allowing SDSU running back Zach Zenner to go on a tear – 10 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns.

While the Jackrabbits put 17 on the Huskers and racked up 186 total yards of offense, Nebraska’s defense adjusted and took over the rest of the game: 279 yards and allowing just a field goal.

Something else missing from the defense this season was pressure on the quarterback… That changed tonight. Huskers got to Austin Sumner often, recording five sacks. Stanley Jean-Baptiste also added to a four-game streak of interceptions, snagging his fourth on the season.

Offensively, Pelini says the offense was rolling. With Taylor Martinez out of the game with a turf toe injury, freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. Made his first start. He was impressive and poised; completing 12-of-15 of his passes for 169 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown in the second quarter to wide receiver Sam Burtch.

The kid can also run. 5 carries for 38 yards and showing no hesitation in his decision to run. May be a slight reach, but his ability to make quick decisions and hit open creases reminded some fans and some in the press box of another “Tommie” who played at Nebraska.

Armstrong shared quarterback duties with Ron Kellogg III. The senior quarterback recorded his first touchdown pass on a 23-yard missile to Tyler Wullenwaber in the second quarter.

Some history was made for the offense in Saturday’s game. For the first time in school history, the Huskers totaled more than 300 yards in passing and rushing. Quite a feat, considering the great teams in the past.

“The offense had an attack mentality.” Pelini says.

The running backs greatly contributed to that feat, including Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross. Abdullah amassed 100 yards by halftime – finishing  with 141 rushing yards on 15 carries. For the second time this season, Cross scored two rushing touchdowns (5-yard and 3-yard scores in the first quarter). He also rushed for 60 yards in ten carries.

Entering the bye week, Pelini adds the offense and defense will have to work on execution and correct mistakes. Some players will also have a chance to heal, including Martinez. When asked about his status, Pelini says it’s up to Martinez and team doctors if he will be ready to go for Illinois on October 5.

Whether Martinez will be good to go for the start of Big Ten play or not, one thing is clear… Nebraska has two very talented guys to step in and lead the offense.

Quick injury notes: Nebraska’s main wide receivers took some big hits in the win. Quincy Enunwa took a hit to the knees in the third quarter. During post-game interviews, both knees were wrapped in ice – but downplayed any injury and called it “soreness”. Meanwhile, Pelini says Kenny Bell is fine and had the wind knocked out of him in the second quarter.

Bruins score 38 unanswered, UCLA roars past Nebraska

Quarterback Taylor Martinez showing off the alternate uniforms of 2013 in pregame warm-ups.

Quarterback Taylor Martinez showing off the alternate uniforms of 2013 in pregame warm-ups.

There was the good, then it just got plain ugly.

It was the big one that got away on a well-planned fishing trip. Nebraska let this one slip by.

Up 21-3 and seemingly in the driver’s seat, UCLA steamrolled back into the game… scoring 38 unanswered while shutting out the Husker offense in the second half.

For the first time since 1948, the Bruins come into Lincoln and hand the Huskers a loss at home, 41-21.

[Read more...]

Unrivaled: Huskers, UCLA prepare for battle

The sea of red – and black – begins a decent into Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

Aside the hype of the black uniforms, this is a key game for the Huskers (2-0). UCLA (1-0) is riding on a surprising, out-of-nowhere season last year, including a 36-30 win over Nebraska and making it to the PAC-12 Championship.

The Huskers are 6-5 all-time with the Bruins, 4-1 when games are played in Lincoln. UCLA and Nebraska were ranked in the top 20 the last time they played in 1994 (Nebraska 2, UCLA 13). The Huskers won that game 49-21.

Don’t expect such a lop-sided victory this time around.

Offensively, UCLA is ripe with talent. Quarterback Brett Hundley is considered one of the best in the conference. While the running back core is without Johnathan Franklin, the running threat is still prevalent with Jordon James and Damien Thigpen. The Blackshirts, no pun intended, must play their best football today.

Kickoff is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. CST. Nebraska Radio Network will have post-game audio and reaction following today’s game. For the latest injury reports and updates, follow Husker reporter Jonathan Daniels on Twitter (@NewsDudeJon) as he reports live from Memorial Stadium throughout the game.