It would have seemed almost prophetic when you look back to the second half of NU's game against Western Illinois. Interceptions, turnovers, taking a game that was considered near flawless in the first half, making a win still dominating, but "ugly" despite.
Against Southern Mississippi, the game was anything but flawless, anything but dominant, but if you didn't see the score, rather viewed only the other statistics, you'd still be convinced that Nebraska won the game.
Nebraska led in first downs 26 to 11. Nebraska led in total offense, putting up 476 yards to Southern Miss's 239. Nebraska led in time of possession, 35:18 to the Golden Eagles' 24:35. Nebraska also had fewer penalties for fewer yards, punted almost half of what Southern Miss did and they out-rushed and out-passed USM as well.
The one statistic, however, that off-set all of those and ultimately sealed the game for the Huskers was turnovers, which to their chagrin was also superior to Southern Mississippi.
|Head coach, Bill Callahan talks
to Dailey about next play. Dailey
now leads the country in INTs.
"He didn't have the best day and we're all aware of that." Callahan said of Dailey. "There's a lot of pressure on that position and that's the nature of it, and that's the nature of being a quarterback in the West Coast Offense. He's going to mature, he'll learn from this. I'm optimistic, I'm positive that he's going to continue to get better."
Dailey himself said that you didn't have to look far to see how NU let this game get away. "Stat's don't lie." he said. "I turned the ball over 4 times. We should have won that game 31-9. That's what it should have been."
"It comes down to fundamentals. You have to have the fundamentals."
It didn't take Dailey long in the game to realize that as he tossed 2 of his 3 interceptions in the first quarter of the game. Southern Miss was able to capitalize, but only managed to get 6 points on 2 field goals.
In the second quarter, Nebraska answered those two field goals with one of their own, which was then again matched as Southern Miss kicked their third field goal on the day. The Huskers then scored on a 6-play drive that culminated in a Dailey pass to receiver, Grant Mulkey, giving Nebraska the lead for the first time in the game, 10-7. It was a catch Mulkey wasn't anticipating he would get. "I wasn't expecting it." he said "I just got inside the safety and Joe (Dailey) made a good read and a great throw and I was just lucky to make the catch."
Nebraska then built on their lead, Dailey hooking up with Matt Herian on the end of a 5-play drive, Nebraska now owning what could have been a decent lead if not for what was definitely the theme of the day.
On 3rd and 13 as Nebraska was in the midst of a 9-play drive, Dailey tossed his final interception on the day, this one though biting the Huskers badly as linebacker Naton Stewart returned the pick 49 yards for the score.
Two out of the next three drives for Nebraska also yielded turnovers, the first being by running back, Tierre Green and the second, a forced fumble from behind on Dailey, his 4th on the day. Green's turnover resulted in a the touchdown that gave USM the lead and Dailey's came as Nebraska was on Southern Miss's 23 yard line on 2nd and 8 with under 5 minutes to play.
Nebraska did have one more chance to take the lead back from USM, but it was finalized by a rush for Dailey on fourth down that NU ultimately turned over on downs, not able to reach the 15 yards needed for Nebraska to move the chains.
It wasn't hard to figure out what Callahan was going to comment on first following the game as he addressed the media about the loss. "When you turn the ball over the amount of times that we did today, you are going to lose in any game and that's unfortunate." he said. "There were a lot of good things done on the field. I felt we improved in certain areas of our play and it's just really disappointing and unfortunate to see our players have a game taken away by themselves."
Contributing to loss was also the lack of the kind of pressure on the quarterback Nebraska exhibited last week against Western Illinois, the "blackshirts" accounting for only one sack, that by rush end, Wali Muahammad.
On the good side, other than the statistical advantage on offense, Cory Ross set a
|Ross set career highs in
for a game and in a single rush
as Ross ran for 163 yards on the
day and ran one for 52 yards.
Nebraska will return to practice tomorrow for mostly film review and meetings and will have Monday off. They will then fly to Pittsburgh for the first road-test of the year next weekend, this game to kickoff at 11:00 a.m. and will be aired on ABC.
Matt Herian caught 8 balls on the day, tying the single-game record with Dennis Morrison who completed the feat in 1966
Along with setting a career-high in yardage for a game, running back Cory Ross had a 52 yard rush, his single longest run of his career. Ross also surpassed the 1,000-yard career mark, the 54th Husker to do so.
Joe Dailey's 42 pass attempts against Southern Miss. matches the all-time single game high set in 1972 by David Humm
Barrett Ruud became just the second player in Husker history to surpass the 300 tackle-mark, now pushing his total to 307, just 35 behind the All-time leader, Jerry Murtaugh.
Lornell McPherson and Adam Carriker both left the game with injuries, their statuses to be determined.