It was certainly not the way Nebraska Cornhusker fans were hoping the Mike Riley era would begin in Lincoln, as BYU beat Nebraska 33-28 last Saturday, sealing the win with a 42-yard 'Hail Mary' pass as time expired at Memorial Stadium.

I talked with the 'Voice of the Huskers' Greg Sharpe about the loss, which featured some highs and lows for the 'Big Red'.

Some of the positives for the Huskers against the Cougars:

  • 26 offensive plays of ten yards or more (only Florida State and Colorado State had more last weekend).
  • Quarterback Tommy Armstrong with his second career 300 yard passing game.
  • Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp with seven catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.
  • The defense sacking BYU quarterbacks three times.
  • The defense limiting the Cougars to 3 of 14 on third downs.
  • Sioux Falls native Nate Gerry picking off a pass in the third quarter to set up a Nebraska touchdown.

Some of the negatives:

  • Nine first half penalties, including six in the second quarter.
  • Just 103 combined yards from a trio of Husker running backs.
  • Nebraska gaining a net minus-five yards on three crucial third down conversions in the fourth quarter.
  • Two missed field goals.
  • An inability at times to put consistent pressure on the quarterback and cover BYU's big wide receivers.
  • A coverage breakdown on the game's final play by not putting a defender in front of a Cougar wide receiver on the goal line, leading to a 'Hail Mary' touchdown pass.

Nebraska is looking to build on the positives and eliminate the negatives as they host South Alabama, Saturday night in Lincoln. The Jaguars, out of the Sun Belt Conference, are in just their ninth year of football. USA is coming off an opening weekend win, beating Gardner-Webb 33-23.

This is a team that lost 17 starters from last season's 6-6 squad, but picked up seven transfers from Alabama-Birmingham, who disbanded its' football program after 2014.

Jaguar quarterback Cody Clements and offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent brought UAB's up-tempo, no-huddle style to Mobile this season, and it resulted in 224 yards thru the air last week.

South Alabama also reeled off a number of big plays in their win, including a 92-yard run and 56-yard reception from running back Xavier Johnson. The Jaguar offense also had two other plays that each covered 49 yards or more. The special teams added a 46-yard kickoff return and the defense forced six fumbles (recovering one), and picked off a pair of passes.

Here is my complete interview with Greg on the BYU loss and the match-up with the Jaguars: