No. 21 Huskers Storm Past Colonels
Lincoln - With a steady rain falling from the Lincoln skies above Memorial Stadium, the No. 21 Nebraska football team created a downpour of points on its way to a 56-7 win over Nicholls State in front of 84,076 fans on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskers, 2-0, received impressive balance for the second straight game, both rushing and passing for more than 200 yards on their way to scoring 49 or more points for the second consecutive week. After scoring 49 points in a season-opening win over Louisiana Tech, the Huskers have amassed 105 points in its first two games, the highest combined total to open a season since NU's 1995 national championship team scored 114 points in the first two games.
Nebraska Coach Bill Callahan said he was pleased with the Huskers' preparation and execution throughout the game.
"That was a great game for our team today. I'm really proud of our players and coaches and the way they focused and prepared throughout the week. We came off to a very fast start. I was extremely pleased with the way we began the game. It's an objective of ours to go out and play well in that first quarter, and I thought we certainly accomplished that objective. I'm proud of our offense. I thought we played efficiently today."
While the Husker offense rolled, Nebraska's defense silenced Nicholls State through the air, holding the Colonels to no passing yards, the first time that has been achieved by the Blackshirts since grounding Oklahoma State in 1992.
With the 2006 Nebraska Football Hall of Fame class looking on, the newest group of Huskers rekindled memories of Big Red dominance of years past for the NCAA record 277th consecutive sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium. Nebraska scored on six of its first seven possessions.
Senior quarterback Zac Taylor produced one of the most efficient and productive passing efforts by a Nebraska quarterback in school history, connecting on 19-of-23 passes, including 12 straight completions in the first half, for 202 yards and four touchdowns in three quarters of football before giving way to No. 2 quarterback Joe Ganz in the fourth quarter.
Taylor's 213.77 NCAA pass efficiency rating ranked as the eighth best day by a Husker in the Nebraska record books.
"I thought Zac was very efficient," Callahan said. "We just wanted to grind it out. This type of game was played in some conditions that we might possibly play in in the later part of the year, so that was a good weather game for us. With a bad weather day, handling the ball, throwing it, protecting, running the ball and having the great ball security we had, I came away really pleased from that."
"Zac was very efficient," Nebraska Coach Bill Callahan said. "We just wanted to grind it out. It was a bad weather day and we just wanted to have a good ball security day. It was a good experience for our players to go through."
While Taylor guided the Huskers smoothly through the air, sophomore I-back Marlon Lucky carried the load on the ground. Lucky, a native of North Hollywood, Calif., sprinted to the first 100-yard rushing day of his career with 18 carries for 103 yards and one touchdown, eclipsing the 100-yard mark on NU's first drive of the second half.
"I really enjoyed watching Marlon," Callahan said. "He hits those runs, and he's getting a good feel for the offense and the running attack. I think, from what I saw today, that he's setting his blocks better. His course set the blocks for those linemen's blocks today."
The big days from Taylor and Lucky helped the Huskers achieve impressive offensive balance, as the Huskers rolled to 498 total yards, including 237 yards passing and 261 rushing yards.
Nebraska's consistency was evident on the scoreboard, as the Huskers put 14 points on the scoreboard in each quarter, with seven different players finding the end zone for the second straight week.
The Huskers opened the scoring on their first drive of the game after Stewart Bradley recovered a Nicholls State fumble on the first possession of the game. It was one of two fumble recoveries for Bradley on the day, tying the Nebraska record for fumble recoveries by a linebacker in a single game.
Nebraska wasted little time in converting the Colonels' miscue into points, as Cody Glenn rammed his way into the end zone from one yard out to cap an 11-play drive in which all 53 Husker yards came on the ground.
Nebraska added another 11-play drive on its next possession, covering 51 yards in 5:21, as senior fullback Dane Todd scored his first career touchdown on a one-yard pass from Taylor with 28 seconds left in the first quarter to put NU up 14-0. On the drive, Taylor was a perfect 6-for-6 through the air for 33 yards and the touchdown.
The Huskers struck even more quickly on their third drive, flying 39 yards in just three plays and 1:20, which culminated with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Taylor to senior tight end Matt Herian to extend NU's lead to 21-0 with just under 13 minutes left in the first half.
Taylor concluded an impressive first half by completing 12 consecutive passes from Nebraska's second through fifth drives, misfiring on only his first pass of the game and his last two passes of the second quarter. Taylor completed 12-of-15 passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
Lucky had 82 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in the first half alone, notching Nebraska's final touchdown of the half on a one-yard plunge to send the Huskers into the locker room with a 28-0 lead.
Overall, Nebraska rolled to 199 yards of total offense in the first half, including 108 on the ground and 91 through the air, while holding Nicholls State to just 51 total yards. In the first half, the ball was snapped on the home half of the field just three times.
Taylor and Lucky stayed hot to start the second half, with the senior quarterback going 4-for-4 for 48 yards through the air, including a 14-yard touchdown strike to Frantz Hardy to put the Huskers ahead 35-0. Lucky added 21 yards on three carries to go 100 yards for the first time in his career.
Taylor made it five straight completions with a 42-yard scoring toss to Maurice Purify on the first play of NU's second drive of the second half to put the Huskers in front 42-0 with 7:36 remaining in the third quarter.
Nicholls State avoided the shutout early in the fourth quarter after Sean Comeaux punt hit Husker Todd Peterson in the back near midfield and was recovered by the Colonels. On the next play, Grant Thorne galloped 49 yards to the NU 1, before Broderick Cole scored on the next play to pull Nicholls State within 42-7 with 13:33 left.
Glenn, who finished the day with 11 carries for 47 yards and two touchdowns, and Kenny Wilson who pitched in 79 yards and a touchdown on nine carries added fourth-quarter scores for the Huskers to produce the final margin.
Nebraska will play its first road game of the season next Saturday when the Huskers travel to Los Angeles to battle No. 3 USC. The game will be televised nationally by ABC.
Scoring Summary - Nebraska 56, Nicholls State 7
NU - Cody Glenn 1-yard run (11 plays, 53 yards, 4:27), 8:02 - NU, 7-0
NU - Dane Todd 1-yard pass from Zac Taylor (11 plays, 51 yards), 5:21 - NU, 14-0
NU - Matt Herian 19-yard pass from Taylor (3 plays, 39 yards), 12:54 - NU, 21-0
NU - Marlon Lucky 1-yard run (11 plays, 45 yards, 1:36), 0:23 - NU, 28-0
NU - Frantz Hardy 14-yard pass from Taylor (9 plays, 77 yards, 4:42), 10:07 - NU, 35-0
NU - Maurice Purify 42-yard pass from Taylor (1 play, 42 yards, 0:28), 7:36 - NU, 42-0
NS - Broderick Cole 1-yard run (2 plays, 50 yards, 0:30), 13:33 - NU, 42-7
NU - Kenny Wilson 14-yard run (5 plays, 76 yards, 2:24), 11:03 - NU, 49-7
NU - Cody Glenn 7-yard run (5 plays, 49 yards, 1:54), 5:07 - NU, 56-7