New Era style

The anticipation of what Nebraska would look like had reached about as close to a fever pitch as possible. Fans excited, coaches ready and players eager to see just what they could do against competition perhaps less than stellar, but perfect to see what they had and what they had to work on for the future. What Nebraska fans got, especially in the first half was a show like few could have expected. It was Nebraska's "West Coast" attack unleashed.

At the end of the first half against Western Illinois, Nebraska looked like a team that had been running the "West Coast" offense for as long as the "option" had been it's calling-card forte'.

JoeDaileyWIUS.jpg - 101991 Bytes
Dailey scored 6 times in
the game, tying a single-
game mark for scoring by
a single player.
Joe Dailey responded to the questions of a QB brought in for one system, asked to run another with nothing but an emphatic response that left fans dazzled and his opponent's befuddled. Dailey lit Western Illinois up like a pinball machine for the first two periods of play.

In what you could call almost symbolically a "scoring explosion", Dailey was responsible for just that, running for the first score for Nebraska and passing for the next four. For the entire contest Dailey was responsible for 6 scores, tying the single-game individual record for the Huskers.

It was as head coach Bill Callahan basically put it, a good starting point for the Sophomore. "Until you get under the gun as a quarterback in this system you just don't know." he said. "He came out very focused tonight. His preparation was very thorough and I will tell you that there aren't many quarterbacks in the National Football League that can handle what he handled tonight mentally."

Dailey did throw 4 interceptions that went along with his 4 touchdowns on 15 of 30 passing for 218 yards that put a slight damper on what was overall a stellar night for an NU QB. But, Callahan reiterated that Dailey proved his worth tonight. "He's a little down for how he finished the game." he said. "(But) I am very up-beat and very positive about where he can take us during the season."

Nebraska's success passing was only outdone on the night by it's rushing, the Huskers piling up a very traditional-like 363 yards on the ground. Cory Ross led the way in yards with 125, but Tierre Green led in average per carry, tallying a whopping 16 yard average every time he touched the ball.

All in all, not a single running back between those two along with true freshman Brandon Jackson and Joe Dailey himself averaged less than 6 yards each time a rush was attempted. Callahan said that the success Nebraska had, especially initially had a lot to do with Nebraska's players, but a little to do with what the defense of WIU was doing as well. "They brought the corner off the edge a few times and initiated a lot of line-movement to try and disrupt the inside-run game." Callahan said. "That basically opened up the outside-runs."

"We hurt them a little bit out there and I thought they loosened up and allowed us to feature a little more of the inside run."

What Nebraska was able to do early on was what Western Illinois couldn't do and that was pretty much everything that didn't include special teams. The "Blackshirts" proved staunch in their debut under defensive coordinator, Kevin Cosgrove, limiting the "Leathernecks" to 220 yards in total offense on 77 plays.

The most impressive statistics though had to have been the negative 3 yards rushing WIU

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Carriker had tallied two
sacks on the evening, NU
notching 7 total against
Western Illinois.
managed along with the three sacks in a row that Nebraska put together as Adam Carriker, Jay Moore and Wali Muhammad teamed up for the trifecta on starting QB, Adam Smith during the first quarter. "That was great, because it was the front." defensive tackle, Le Kevin Smith said of the fact that NU didn't blitz to get any of those sacks. "It was just straight out base-front."

"The quarterback couldn't step up, because the two middle guys were getting a push and the two ends were just dominating the tackles. So, it just felt great."

One of the surprise highlights for the NU defense was the overall leader in tackles. It's a surprise, because it wasn't Barrett Ruud. In fact, it was the person backing Ruud up, Ira Cooper. Notching 12 tackles and grabbing one interception that he took back 51 yards, you'd think Cooper was the happiest guy on the team, but think again. "Man, Cooper was something special tonight." Smith said. "He was balling out."

Ruud agreed. "Coop's my guy." he said. "He's been here since I've been here. I was just glad to see him out there playing, because he's kind of had to wait around and he finally got his chance. He did a great job."

"I was really happy to see him play real well."

Through the course of the game, Nebraska piled up impressive stats in just about every category tracked. Along with aforementioned passing and rushing stats, Nebraska finished the day with 581 yards total, 114 yards on 4 interceptions, all while putting up 56 points, 42 of that coming in the first half.

If there was a downside to the game outside of Nebraska's somewhat lackluster performance in the second half, it had to have been special teams. If there is a way to illustrate the term "unmitigated disaster", this was it, the special teams giving up 207 yards on just 5 kickoff returns, one going for a touchdown and WIU benefitting from 3 turnovers off either kickoffs or punts mishandled. "That's one area that concerned me as we were moving through the game." Callahan said. "I've talked to our team repeatedly about how special teams can make a difference in the opening game."

"And, when you look at the way we played special teams early on, it showed that we need a lot more work in that area."

Nebraska will get back to work earlier than in prior years, the Huskers getting back to practice on Sunday as opposed to recent years where NU had those days off, resuming practice on Mondays.

Following film-study and reviewing the good and bad of the WIU game, it's back to the drawing board, this time for Sothern Mississippi.

The Golden Eagles travel to Lincoln for next weekend's game, finishing off the two-game home & home series, Nebraska taking last year's contest at Southern Miss., 38-14. The game will kickoff at 11:00 a.m. central time and will be aired on ABC.


    1. Matt Herian led Nebraska's receiving charge, taking in 7 balls for a total of 98 yards and 2 scores. That ties him for second all-time for most receptions by a tight end for a single game with Johnny Mitchell (Oklahoma - 1991) and Jim McFarland (Texas A&M - 1969). The record is 8, held by Dennis Morrisson who accomplished the feat against Colorado in 1966.
    2. Willie Amos proved to be the most prolific receiver on the day, catching 2 balls
      WillieAmosWIUS.jpg - 105412 Bytes
      Amos was 3 for 3 on TDs
      to catches, but one of the
      scores was called back
      on a holding penalty
      and scoring twice. That doesn't include yet another score the wideout had, that reception being called back on a holding penalty.
    3. Joe Dailey's 218 yards is the most ever thrown for in a season-opener by a Husker QB. The next closest is Jerry Tagge who threw for 168 against Wake Forest in 1970 and Bobby Newcombe who also threw for 168 yards, this performance coming against Louisiana Tech in 1998.
    4. Leading the team in sacks on the night were two Huskers that tied with 2 sacks each, Adam Carriker and Lornell McPherson scoring the 4 sacks out of the 7 total on the day, the other three being put up by Wali Muhammad, Benard Thomas and Jay Moore.
    5. Daniel Bullocks can now say he leads his brother, Josh Bullocks in interceptions on the season, Daniel grabbing an interception against Western Illinois this evening. Daniel's was one of 4 interceptions for Nebraska, the others being grabbed by Fabian Washington, Linebacker - Corey McKeon and back up middle linebacker - Ira Cooper.
    6. In attendance for tonight's game were some high-profile recruits, most from the west side of the country. Defensive End - Averell Spicer, Linebacker - Rey Maualuga, WR/Safety - Anthony Crosby, TE - Zach Potter, OT/DT - Jacob Hickman, WR - Roberto Wallace, WR - Marquise Wilson, Defensive Tackle - Russell Tialavea along with Husker commits - Offensive Lineman - Craig Roark and his brother and fellow lineman, Chad Roark and Linebacker - Phillip Dillard.

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