He said it himself, "It's just a number.", but the milestone that had never been achieved in the history of Nebraska football was much more than that. Joe Dailey's 342 yards passing set the standard for the Nebraska passing game, but again, to Dailey, it was just a number in the end.
"We won the football game and honestly, that's all that really matters to me right now."
You'd have to understand Joe's reluctance to grab the record and sing the praises of a team that did something no Nebraska team had ever done. That's because this Nebraska team did that last week as well, of course, setting a record for the most points ever given up is another record nobody wants to talk about too much as well. With that being said, Dailey's overall 13-20 passing and 5 scores was just part of what NU needed to bounce back.
"I'm proud of how our team bounced back after that debacle down in Texas last weekend." Head coach, Bill Callahan said. "These guys are a resilient group and they are exhibiting signs of coming of age."
That would seem overly high praise despite the performance when you take into account the team NU played against today. A Baylor team that ranks in the top 40 of the nation in only one category……punting.
What Nebraska did manage to do today, however, that they hadn't managed all season long was when they had the ball on offense, they only time the Bears got it was either from the initial kickoffs, a punt or an ensuring kickoff following each score. For a team that ranks second to last in the country in turnover margin, this was probably the best statistic on the day, especially from the quarterback position. "That just shows you that he's becoming more mature." Callahan said of Dailey's day. "He's exhibiting the ability to make good decisions."
"He was on the move a couple of times and aborted the ball, which I thought was very well done."
If Dailey was comfortable, which is certainly looked like he was, it was helped a lot with the fact that this win wasn't totally on him. Only throwing twice in the first quarter, it seemed obvious that the running game would be emphasized, over 80 percent of Nebraska's plays on the ground. "We wanted to establish the run early." Callahan said. "We did a number of things to keep them off-balance with their eight-man front."
"As you saw today, they bring a lot of pressure from the edges and you've got to have ways to neutralize that edge and we wanted to diffuse that to the best of our ability and I thought we did that ealry on."
Not typical to how the season has gone, Nebraska managed their running-game, but for the first time, Cory Ross didn't lead the team in carries. That honor went to true freshman, Brandon Jackson who had his own coming out party of sorts, carrying the ball 18 times compared to Ross's 14, Jackson running for a total of 89 yards on the day, scoring twice.
Jackson's emergence wasn't a surprise to the staff as Callahan has seen his progression along with the progressing increase in the amount of plays he can run. "There's certain things that he's showed the ability to do better as his package has evolved." Callahan said of the volume of plays Jackson knows. "His role has now become expanded, he's getting a better grasp on what we're trying to get accomplished and more importantly than ever, his contribution in the kickoff game in special teams is vital."
"It was get to see him spark us in that particular phase as well."
Up to today's game, Nebraska had averaged just under 19 yards a game on kickoff returns and during today's contest, Jackson alone averaged over 30 yards per, tallying a total of 158 yards on 5 returns with a long of 59.
So, the passing game was working, the offense didn't turn the ball over and even special teams proved staunch and opportunistic as well. The game might have been considered perfect then had it not been for the last remaining aspect of the team.
Baylor's offense came into this game rated as one of the worst in the country. Ranking 111th overall, the Bears' ability to put yards together was considered at best, poor. Against a Blackshirts squad evidently still smarting after Tech, the Bears bested that total considerably, putting up 400 yards on the day, 300 in the air.
"I thought for the most part, we made some opportunistic plays." Callahan said of the defense. "And, then there were times where we could have done better against the run."
"I'm impressed with Baylor's backs. They are two big physical backs that can pound you and you can sense the plan that they came in with, that they would feature those two guys."
"We've got to get better, there's no question about that and I am certain we will."
There had to be a downside even to a win like this, but it's better than the downside from last week. It could be said that what happened last week was the worst it could have gotten and this game was a start on the way back up.
Whether it's a watershed game or not, though, that will only be known after the season is done, there's at least one player that thinks that NU is on the right path back. "Hopefully we get respect." Dailey said of what he feel this performance might achieve. "That's what we want by everyone we play."
"When they are rushing people the first play of the game, that means they don't think our line is good, they don't think our backs are good and they sure don't think our quarterbacks are good. So, we had to prove those guys wrong."
How wrong people are will probably not be fully known until next week when Nebraska travels to Manhattan next week as they play another division opponent in Kansas State. The Wildcats will be coming off another loss for them, this one a defeat at the hands of the Oklahoma Sooners, K. State now 2-4 on the year.