World-Herald staff writer Rich Kaipust breaks down the Huskers’ play on both sides of the ball during NU’s 56-13 win over Southern Miss.
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TRACKING THE OFFENSE
The game plan: Nothing too fancy on Saturday, as Nebraska featured a nice blend of the run and pass — and with equal success in both. The Huskers also mixed together some time-consuming drives with quick-strike touchdowns in piling up 479 total yards. The biggest change from a week ago might have been the willingness to throw the football down the field more.
The adjustments: Those came more with personnel than scheme as the game went along, as Nebraska got a chance to play backup quarterbacks Ron Kellogg and Tommy Armstrong as well as some other underclassmen.
NU stars: I-back Ameer Abdullah headed into his junior season with high expectations and already has produced a pair of 100-yard games. Abdullah had a pair of touchdown runs on his way to 114 yards on 17 carries.
Stat of the game: Nebraska moved the chains consistently with 30 first downs (16 rushing, 13 passing, one by penalty).
Final word: After some tough breaks with field position early, Nebraska was fairly efficient as Taylor Martinez completed 15 of 23 passes, the Huskers were 7 of 12 on third-down conversions and they committed just one turnover.
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TRACKING THE DEFENSE
The game plan: With Southern Mississippi having little to no run game, Nebraska had the chance to light up the Eagles with some pass rush. Quarterback Allan Bridgford tried to combat the pressure by getting the ball out fast, but also was visibly rushed on some throws and took shots after many others.
The adjustments: NU showed some different looks by standing up one defensive end from time to time (often Randy Gregory) and moving him around. The Huskers also lined up with three ends and just one tackle occasionally in obvious passing situations. It resulted in more pressure than Nebraska managed to put on Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith the week before.
NU stars: Senior cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste swung the momentum to NU right away with his interception and 43-yard return just three plays into the game. He also had his man blanketed in the end zone on a second-quarter throw when Southern Miss was called for offensive pass interference.
Stat of the game: Seven quarterback hurries, including four by Gregory, reflected the pressure the Huskers applied on Bridgford and backup Nick Mullens.
Final word: Southern Miss’ lack of any running threat was the biggest difference from a week ago, when the Huskers allowed 602 total yards to Wyoming. But Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said the communication and general understanding by the Blackshirts was vastly improved, which could be huge as NU prepares for UCLA.