The Scoring Explosion - Blackshirt Style

Nebraska probably wasn't planning on making this kind of statement the first two games of the season, but it's doubtful anyone will complain. Not since 1962 has Nebraska had three defensive touchdowns and that was what turned what could have been an interesting game into a comfortable win for NU, the big red besting the demon deacons 31-3.

Linebacker Corey McKeon recalled after the game how he and fellow linebacker were ribbing linebacker Stewart Bradley that he hadn't got a touchdown of his own. Ruud got his in game one, taking an interception back for a score, while McKeon started the fireworks for the Husker defense, taking a Benjamin Mauk pass back 38 yards for a touchdown of his own.

 

Daniel Bullocks forces and recovers a fumble, taking it
back for a touchdown, one of three defensive
touchdowns for the Huskers against Wake. Photo -
R.J. Meyer
Bradley had to wait until just over 10 minutes was left in the game when he got his, running back a Mauk miscue 43 yards for the touchdown. McKeon and Bradley's touchdown along with the strip by safety Daniel Bullocks and subsequent 30-yard run in for the score was the first timeNebraska had three defensive scores since 1962.

 

Mckeon liked Bradley's return, but still had a complaint about Bradley's speed heading to the end zone. "He could have ran harder so I didn't have to make anymore blocks," he said.

 

McKeon's attitude, quite jovial and even entertaining after the game was seemingly a reflection of the entire defense's state of mind. One that is a stark contras to last year. "We are having so much fun, it doesn't matter if you are making plays, if your teammate is making plays, it's fun," he said.

 

The defense was having fun, but the offense wasn't sharing that mind-set, especially early on.

 

The game got off to a rather ominous start, Nebraska going for it on fourth down twice in the first series, duplicating the effort from Maine of last week, both drives ending up in the Huskers turning it over on downs. Callahan said of the mind-set behind doing that, stating that it was just a show of confidence in his team. "I believe in them," Callahan said. "I have confidence that we are going to make it."

 

"Against a team that really likes to stretch the game out, we did take some risks early, but it was important for us to start fast and we did that, but we didn't do it on offense, we did it on defense."

 

There were questions about Nebraska's performance against Maine, the Huskers tallying a record 11 sacks on the Black Bears. The "Blackshirts" weren't expecting that coming into this game, Wake Forest primarily a running attack. It was about stopping them at the line and limiting the running game and their potent two-back combo of senior Chris Barclay and redshirt sophomore Micah Andrews, who substituted for Barclay last week against Vanderbilt and ran for a single-game all-time record for Wake Forest of 254 yards.

 

The duo combined for 124 yards and no scores. The entire team netted 130 yards, almost 140 yards under the output from last week's contest.

 

Defensive Coordinator Kevin Cosgrove attributed much of the success to the unity of the team, something they had seemingly none of last year and the depth as well. "I think we are all on the same page

Titus Adams, Barry Turner and Bo Ruud team up for a
tackle on WR Chris Davis - Photo/R.J. Meyer
right now," he said. "We are having a lot of fun (and) that's how it should be."

 

"(Plus) We're fortunate we have that ability," Cosgrove said of being able to substitute frequently. "We didn't have that last year. We're fortunate to be able to do that and it's important for all the kids to get that experience and that's good, because we are going to need everybody."

 

 With the defense hitting on all cylinders at certain points during the game, the lack of an offense became increasingly more glaring. Zac Taylor, coming off a 15 of 36 performance against Maine, where he also threw two interceptions and no scores, completed just 14 of 33 passes in this contest, throwing one interception, but getting his first passing TD, a 4 yard completion to Frantz Hardy.

 

"I missed some really easy throws and just need to get my feet set," Taylor said. "I think we were off mechanically."

 

"We had some good drives, and next week we'll be even better."

 

Through two games, Taylor has completed 29 of 69 passes (42 percent complete), for 306 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. While not impressive, it's still better than where Nebraska sat in the passing game last year at this point, Joe Dailey throwing for 6 touchdowns, but also throwing just 37 percent of his passes complete, along with 7 interceptions.

 

"I think you see abilities by (Zac) Taylor ; his ability to throw the football, his ability to throw accurately," Callahan said. "Obviously, we've got a couple of things to work on, to shore up, but we took a very aggressive approach tonight and I think you can see by all the movement we tried to create on the perimeter, I felt that we were successful in some spots and shoddy in others."

 

Nebraska did open up the third quarter with a scoring drive, highlighted by a 57 yard run by Cory Ross, the senior ending up with a 6.2 yard per rush average, totaling 123 yards on the game.

 

The contrast was in the overall team effort, Nebraska as a team actually running for less yards than what Ross posted on his own, the rest of the team combining for 10 rushes, equaling negative 3 yards. "They create some problems with all the movements," Callahan said of Wake Forest 's rush defense.

 

"There were times when we showed some consistency, Cory's long run, but I think overall we didn't commit to it. We tried to create a balanced attack and we leaned a little more towards pass because of all the man coverage that they were playing on us on the early downs."

 

Nebraska was actually out gained by Wake Forest in total yardage, Nebraska totaling 234 yards to Wake Forest 's 247 and Nebraska lost the time of possession battle as well, Wake Forest holding onto the ball for 35:20 to the Huskers' 24:40.

 

"I'm not going to make a big deal out of it here publicly, but we address it privately with our football team," Callahan said of the team's inconsistencies. "Our players understand where we are at and where we need to go."

 

"They have a better handle on it than you might think."

 

Nebraska moves their record to 2-0 on the season and will face Pittsburgh next week, the game scheduled to be aired on ABC at 2:30 P.M. CST. Pittsburgh is 0-2 on the season, dropping their season-opener to Notre Dame and in their most recent game, lost an overtime game to former Husker head coach Frank Solich and his Ohio Bobcats, 16-10.


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