Nebraska Preview: Cornhuskers at Oregon
You can call it first game jitters, overconfidence, or a letdown, but however you look at it, Nebraska was not very impressive in their narrow week one win at home over Arkansas State.
Although at the end of the day, a win is a win.
But if the Cornhuskers (1-0) thought the Red Wolves were tough, wait until they take the field Saturday (September 9) against the Pac-12’s Oregon Ducks.
Oregon (1-0) opened the year with a 77-21 win over Southern Utah in a game where the Ducks rolled up more than 700 yards in total offense.
New head coach Willie Taggart has a new quarterback running the offense. Sophomore Justin Herbert started 17-of-21 for 281 yards and a touchdown last week.
Herbert’s main target was wide receiver Charles Nelson, who caught five passes for 99 yards. Last season when Nebraska beat Oregon, 35-32 in Lincoln, Nelson caught eight passes for 80 yards.
The Ducks had a pair of backs go over 100 yards in their opener. Royce Freeman picked up 150 yards and scored four times. Kani Benoit added three scores on 107 yards rushing. Freeman was injured early in the Nebraska game last year. In that game in Lincoln, the Ducks ran for 336 yards.
Oregon also got a special teams touchdown against Southern Utah when Tony Brooks-James returned the opening kickoff for a score. Brooks-James had three rushing touchdowns against the Husker defense last year.
Defensively, there was no where to go but up for Oregon in 2017. The 2016 Ducks were one of the tenth worst defenses in the nation.
They have a new scheme this season and forced a pair of turnovers against Southern Utah, while recording five quarterback sacks.
Linebacker Troy Dye had ten tackles and an interception.
Kickoff is 3:30 PM, Saturday in Eugene.
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The Huskers opened 2017 with a much more competitive game than Oregon.
Nebraska survived with a 43-36 win over Arkansas State, in a game that went down to the final play.
There was plenty of good and bad to go around for the Big Red.
New quarterback Tanner Lee threw for two scores and no interceptions in his Nebraska debut, but forced a few throws as well.
The Husker offensive line opened up some big holes for the running game, but had a couple of missed blocks. One resulted in a sack, the other in a safety.
Nebraska’s new 3-4 defense looked tired and confused at times during the first half, but rallied in the second half to make enough plays to secure the victory. Luke Gifford had nine tackles, but overall 497 yards is way too much to give up against Arkansas State.
On special teams, the Huskers did get a kickoff return for a touchdown from JD Spielman, but that came right after Nebraska gave up a punt return for a score.
The biggest star of the game for the Big Red was running back Tre Bryant, who carried the ball 31 times for 192 yards and a touchdown.
Through the air, wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. had five catches for 102 yards and a score, while tight end Tyler Hoppes made an impact with three catches for 40 yards.
Nebraska has a couple of key players injured coming into Saturday’s game.
Wide receiver/kick returner D’Mornay Pierson-El is battling a sore shoulder that could limit his playing time. Offensive lineman David Knevel will likely miss the game with an injured ankle. Sioux Falls Washington High School grad Matt Farniok should get the start in his place.
I talked with the ‘Voice of the Huskers’, Greg Sharpe, about the Arkansas State win and the match-up with Oregon:
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