Published Saturday, September 1, 2012 AT 8:46 PM / Updated at 9:06 PM
Pelini: Nice starting point, but lots to improve
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

After a second quarter hiccup, Nebraska cruised to a convincing 49-20 win over Southern Mississippi Saturday, appearing to meet coach Bo Pelini’s expectations in its season debut.

The fifth-year coach said he told the players that the victory was a nice way to start the year. The Huskers did more than enough to win. But this is the baseline standard. Pelini said his team has to get better going forward.

“It gives us an assessment of, kind of, where we are and what we need to get better at,” Pelini said. “I thought there were a lot of good things out there. I thought there were a lot of positives, but there’s a bunch we need to fix.”

We’ll start with the good stuff.

>> No turnovers. Just two penalties? “That’s a pretty good recipe for success,” Pelini said.

>> He said Taylor Martinez was “efficient.” The junior was 26-for-34 for 354 yards. He threw five touchdowns. But as Pelini noted, the guys around Martinez executed, too. According to Pelini, the receivers showed up. The running backs — especially after Rex Burkhead went down — “played really well,” Pelini said. The offensive line was “outstanding,” Pelini said. Overall, good day for the offense and coordinator Tim Beck, who called a great game.

>> Pelini was pretty positive about the defense. The Blackshirts were far from perfect, but they had to prepare for an opponent they knew nothing about. Here’s his take: “It’s not easy to deal with that, especially when you don’t know what sets and what structures they’re going to do it out of. There were some adjustments that needed to happen, and I thought our guys reacted pretty well.”

Now the bad. Unfortunately, Pelini didn’t share too many details about the mistakes mentioned above. He’ll have, presumably, plenty to say to his team after watching the film.

His biggest concern at this point: Special teams. Brett Maher missing two field goals, banging a kickoff out of bounds and shanking a punt — that’s uncharacteristic. The mistakes made in kickoff coverage are fixable, according to Pelini.

We all saw Martinez nearly throw an interception. There were some breakdowns in pass protection. Some missed blocks on the edge. The defense struggled to stop the QB run. Southern Miss’ zone read option caused some issues, too. Tackling wasn’t great.

But it’s Game One. Things can get corrected. Players can improve. Nebraska should be happy to be 1-0. Because in this wild world of college football, you never know what can happen.

We’ll end this blog with a quick injury rundown, as best we can do. We’ll know more Monday.

Burkhead has an MCL sprain, but it’s not believed to be a long-term injury. No idea how long he’ll be out, at this point. Pelini said his status is day-to-day or week-to-week. … Tim Marlowe has a broken collar bone and will be out for a “few weeks,” Pelini said. … Ben Cotton had “cartilage under his ribs,” Pelini said. … Kyler Reed, Jason Ankrah, Will Compton and Ciante Evans were all guys who left at some point during Saturday’s game. But all of them returned.

About Jon Nyatawa

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008. He and his laptop, cell phone, tape recorder, pen and notebook all live in Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter: @JonNyatawa. Email him here: He welcomes feedback.


  1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

    Nice to see a Nebraska type performance on offense 5 years later……
    There seemed to be a sense of purpose and intensity.
    The NU receivers did show up, finally.
    It is evident to me now the current starting NU QB should not be making reads at the LOS, just run the play.
    I’m glad the Southern Miss offense resembled our offense last year, it could have been a nail biter, the NU D-Line is horrendous.
    Bring on the Bruins.

    1. NCAAFBFan says:

      Good win. A lot of first game issues. RB position seems solid with the potential loss of Rex. Cross is a beast! Tmart spread the ball around through the air. Good reads. Still like to see him be able to run the ball when needed. Seems more one dimensional, but just the first game.

      Special teams showed an unusual area of concern. Can’t tell if the kicking game is holder or kicker but hope they work it out. Defense continues to baffle as to why they cannot stop a mobile QB. Seriously, five years in with a defensive minded HC and cannot stop a mobile QB. I think the game is a lot closer if USM leaves Alford in longer.

      All in all a lot of things to like about the first game. Go Huskers the rest of the season!

    2. BigFRed says:

      It is evident to me now you spent most of the offseason spewing a load of nonsense.

      1. An Actual Cornhusker Fan says:

        Nonsense, he is a virtual Jimmy the Greek! My God do I here an “I told you so” every hour of the day now after seeing him being validated like that.

        One has to see now how if Tommie Frazier would have been hired as the QB coach instead of Joe Ganz, Taylor wouldn’t have choked and thrown in the +75% completion range. He would have hit 100%.

        As CORNDEVIL has said on numerous occasions, bring in Tom Rathman now & fire the whole staff!!!!!

    3. Grizzo says:

      Taylor audibled into a deep TD pass which you cheered about. Stupid analysis. Pelini admited they had no idea what to expect on offense especially with SMising 4 QB’s.
      Best Fans in College Football!

      1. An Actual Cornhusker Fan says:

        Just because an analysis is incorrect or a series of daily off-season analyses are totally off base does not make them “stupid analysis”. Even a “broken” clock is right two times a day. Maybe not on this blog but hopefully the point I am trying to make is crystal clear.

  2. A Fan says:

    A good win. Have some issues to fix; tackling, DL, special teams. Martinez looked better passing the ball, didn’t see him run much.

    1. An Actual Cornhusker Fan says:

      Yes, when will NU address Taylor’s LACK of speed or the fact that he CAN’T run. Frazier would never have HAD TO THROW to 10 DIFFERENT receivers! T.O.’s teams typically had 3 WRs (no second string) on their 140 yard passing per game “Itty Bitty Committes” because the QB could RUN!!!! Also, NU needs to recruit 4 STAR QBs that are fast enough to go the distance…not just passers.

      Passing C-A-I Yds TD Long Sack
      Martinez, Taylor 26-34-0 354 5 36 1

      The evidence:

      Receiving No. Yards TD Long

      Enunwa, Quincy 6 70 0 27
      Reed, Kyler 5 57 1 18
      Abdullah, Ameer 4 39 1 18
      Long, Jake 3 41 1 24
      Turner, Jamal 2 46 0 36
      Osborne, Steven 2 36 1 29
      Bell, Kenny 1 26 1 26
      Evans, Tyler 1 26 0 26
      Wullenwaber, Tyler 1 8 0 8
      Cotton, Ben 1 5 0 5
      Totals 26 354 5 36

    2. An Actual Cornhusker Fan says:

      Can he run??????

  3. One Man Jury says:

    Great play by Martinez & Co. Exceeded my expectations. Like Carly Simon said: “these are the good old days.”

  4. tks says:

    As someone currently with an MCL sprain I can say this…it’s made me less than 100% for around 6 weeks right now and that’s because I’m too dumb because it felt good after 2 weeks of not working it and I decided to go ahead and work out anyway…bad idea.

    Hopefully, we’ll sit Rex out for 3-4 weeks and not try and have him push it and re-aggravate it.

  5. Florida Husker says:

    If you really want to improve, take out Meredith, Ankrah, Whaley and Compton–all too slow, and give the young guys a chance.

    1. joey says:

      WRONG… REPLACE our DC. He was a FLOP in his last position. Now he looks to repeat at his new position.

  6. An Actual Cornhusker Fan says:

    When WILL the running backs begin to LOOK MULTI-DIMENSIONAL???? Each back is AN EXACT CLONE of EACH OTHER!!! CORNDEVIL was RIGHT, AGAIN!!!!

    “Ameer Abdullah looked fine in relief, looking better running between the tackles than he did last season. Nice hands on that touchdown catch as well. Braylon Heard looked really good on his three carries; I’d like to see a little more of him. Imani Cross looked pretty powerful, and Mike Marrow makes the triple option another little thing defenses need to prepare for.”

    1. joey says:

      I tooooold you soooo. Because they have NO SPEED!!!