Saturday, August 30, 2014

Huskers Obliterate Florida Atlantic to Open 2014 Season

Nebraska posted all sorts of impressive statistics in the Huskers 55-7 season opening victory over Florida Atlantic:  784 total yards (5th most in Nebraska history, most by a Big Ten team since 1905). 200 yards allowed, 8.7 yards per carry average on offense. But one statistic stood out the most to me:  Zero Turnovers.

Turnovers have been an issue throughout Bo Pelini's tenure in Lincoln, but last season, turnovers became a critical problem that directly led to November losses to Michigan State and Iowa. Today, it was a clean performance as last year's fumbling freshmen became sensational sophomore contributors.  Quarterback Tommy Armstrong showed better touch on many of his passes, wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp was the leading receiver on the day, and I-back Terrell Newby rushed for 107 yards on the day.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that Ameer Abdullah ran like a man possessed, rushing for 232 yards on the day. (Mistake on my part: I could have sworn that Abdullah came out of the locker room in street clothes after halftime. I tweeted it...then quickly realized I was wrong.  Sorry to anybody who was misinformed due to my mistake.)  Frankly on offense, there wasn't much that didn't work right, other than a few first quarter penalties for illegal blocks downfield.

Defensively, you really couldn't ask for much more after Florida Atlantic's first series.  49 yards in the second quarter, -1 yards in the third, and 74 in the fourth. The absence of Randy Gregory was alarming initially until it was eventually acknowledged that Gregory "probably" could have returned. It wasn't necessary, especially with the way the rest of the defensive line was playing. If you've been wondering who Jack Gangwish was during preseason practice, well, now you know. Greg McMullen was very impressive as well at the other defensive end spot.

Great opening performance for the Huskers.  But it's too easy to overreact to a single game against an overmatched opponent.  Last time Nebraska opened the season with such an impressive performance was 2007...and we all sadly remember how the rest of that season went. I don't suspect any similar sort of tailspin in in the works for 2014, but I don't know that anybody anticipated what happened in 2007 either.

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