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Passing Grade

By NU Athletic Communications
Bill Callahan introduced his team to Husker Nation Saturday.
Bill Callahan introduced his team to Husker Nation Saturday.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Lincoln -- The Bill Callahan era kicked off Saturday with the Red capturing a 35-6 win over the White in the annual Red-White Spring Game in front of a school-record Spring Game crowd of 61,417 at Memorial Stadium. 

The Callahan-led Red squad threw for 241 yards and four touchdowns and broke nearly every Spring Game passing record in the process.  No. 1 quarterback Joe Dailey completed 29-of-49 passes for 241 yards and four touchdowns, shattering the Spring Game record in all four categories.  The previous school mark for completed passes was set with 22 by the White in 1992, while the White team attempted 40 passes in 1971.  Dailey also snapped the touchdown mark previously held by Scott Frost with three touchdowns for the White in 1995, and his yardage total surpassed Tommie Frazier's mark of 228 yards for the Red set in 1995.

"The passing game is beginning to make the kind of progress that we're looking for," Callahan said.  "They did a nice job in the red zone completing some balls, and obviously distributing the ball to 11 different receivers. That's what this style of offense is all about."

The Red team, which consisted of the No. 1 offense and defense, went three and out on its first possession, including a failed long strike from Joe Dailey to Matt Herian on the first play of the game.  But the Red followed its first drive by orchestrating an 11-play, 68-yard drive on its second possession that culminated with a 19-yard strike from Dailey to Mark LeFlore. 

The Red added another 60-plus yard drive that ended with a Dailey to Ross Pilkington 18-yard touchdown connection to give the Red a 14-0 red.

The Red defense forced the White to punt on each of its first eight possessions and held the White squad, which consisted of the No. 2 and No. 3 units, to just 24 yards of total offense, including minus-59 yards rushing. 

Dailey had his first setback midway through the second quarter when his pass intended for Grant Mulkey was intercepted by Donald DeFrand in the end zone after the Red had marched 53 yards down the field.  The turnover was the only one of the game by either team. 

The Red defense stopped the White on the ensuing drive, and Dailey marched the Red offense back into scoring position completing 5-of-7 passes for 45 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to Matt Herian to give the Red 21-0 halftime lead.

Dailey threw his fourth touchdown of the game on the Red's first possession of the third quarter.  After taking over on the Red's 28-yard line following a three-yard punt by the White, Dailey hit Cory Ross on a quick 10-yard scoring strike to push the Red lead to 28-0 at the end of three quarters.

The Huskers showed balance offensively on the final drive, as David Horne ended a 14-play drive with a nine-yard touchdown scamper to give the Red a 35-0 advantage.  Horne led all rushers with 10 carries for 59 yards, while Ross added nine carries for 39 yards.

As a team, the Red rushed 24 times for 113 yards as the West Coast Offense generated 354 total yards in the abbreviated contest.  The first half was played with standard 15-minute quarters, while the second half was shortened to a pair of 12-minute quarters with no clock stoppages. 

The White escaped from being shut out on the final play of the game when Mike Stuntz threw a 27-yard pass to Dan Erickson as time expired.

Saturday's attendance of 61,417 eclipsed the previous spring record of 60,498 set in 1998.

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