C.J. Zimmerer Named to the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team

Congratulations to C.J. Zimmer.

Here’s how he found out about the award.  On the day of the announcement, C.J. thought he was simply speaking at a student assembly at Eastridge Elementary school. What he didn’t know was that his family would be there to surprise him with his trophy and let him know that he had made the team. Everyone knew except C.J. and his reaction is fantastic.

Nebraska 56 – Southern Miss 13

Nebraska puts last week behind them and comes out strong against Southern Miss, running away with a 56-13 victory Saturday night in Lincoln.

The much maligned defense opened the scoring spree with a pick 6 by Stanley Jean-Baptiste 32 seconds in to the game. The Blackshirts then lit up the scoreboard again late in the first quarter when Ciante Evans intercepted another Allan Bridgford pass for the second defensive touchdown of the game.

Bridgford was under constant pressure from the defensive line throughout the game and sacked once, but the key stat was the three interceptions. Southern Miss was only able to put up 284 yards of offense on the board. Outside of a nice drive in the first quarter that was killed by penalties in the red zone, Southern Miss never challenged.

On the offensive side of the ball for the Huskers, Martinez was efficient with the passing game and Ameer Abdullah went north of a hundred yards to put this game away early. Senior QB Ron Kellogg made an appearance as did freshman QB Tommy Armstrong.

On the Numbers:
Nebraska offensive yards: 477
Nebraska rushing yards: 283
Nebraska passing yards: 194

Southern Miss offensive yards: 284
Southern Miss rushing yards: 223
Southern Miss passing yards: 61

Many improvements on both sides of the ball this week. The defense was quick, and seemed to be communicating well. A couple pick-sixes will always boost the confidence. The offense was efficient, and I was happy to see some agressive playcalling down the field.

We found out Terrell Newby has a personal foul inducing stiff arm, but you shrug your shoulders and move on with a 40-some point lead.

All-in-all, a confidence boosting performance heading in to next week’s tester with UCLA at 11:00 at Memorial Stadium.

Huskers fall in Polls

After narrowly escaping Wyoming 37-34, Nebraska has fallen in both the AP and USAToday Coaches Poll. Previously ranked 18th in both preseason polls, Nebraska dropped to #22 and #23 in both polls respectively.

The rest of the Big 10 weighs in at:
Ohio State: #3 in AP, #4 in USAToday
Michigan: #17 in AP, #15 in USAToday
Northwestern: #19 in AP, #20 in USAToday
Wisconsin: #21 in AP, #21 in USAToday

Complete polls available on ESPN

Nebraska 37 – Wyoming 34

There is a saying in college football that the biggest change you will see in a team happens from week 1 to week 2 of the season. Nebraska needs to put in some work this week. On the way to a 37-34 nailbiting win, Nebraska extends their season-opening win streak to 28, a lot of question marks emerged on the new turf at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

Huskers take the field for 2013

Wyoming, coming off a 4-8 season last year, had the offensive chops to put the Huskers defense on their heels early. A team that average 390 total yards per game on offense in 2012, the Cowboys galloped to 602 yards against the Nebraska defense that was expected to be young, but much improved in, 2013. Quarterback Brett Smith passed for 383 yards and four touchdowns in addition to 92 yards of rushing.

Nebraska went with a largely conservative rushing game that became increasingly effective as the game went on. I don’t know if the gameplan was too keep the passing game short, primarily with outside screens and 10 yard in and out routes, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of big downfield attacks by the passing game. Particularly worrisome was the apparent return of the fumbles; putting the ball on the carpet three times, but only losing one.

And the defense. Nothing but question marks. They are young, but this was supposed to be a speedy defense with a lot of natural talent. I don’t care how fast you are, if you are playing catch-up to your receiver, you’ve already been burned and that was happening a lot. Zone coverage was slow to react to incoming receivers leaving enough gaps for the seasoned QB Brett Smith to find them when he needed. At the line, Wyoming was winning the push. Smith’s zone read options appeared to turn in to simple left-right reads at the snap. Nebraska did put some pressure, but not enough to force hurries and break plays. The only time they got to Smith for a sack, a personal foul negated the loss.

But enough with the negatives. Husker football season is here. Nebraska needs to win the games they are expected to win. They did that last night. The score wasn’t what most expected, but the W is a W and there are at least 11 more games to build upon.

There are enough positives from the offense to know that they can score the ball when needed. If this season becomes a “last-team-to-score-wins” type season, Nebraska can step up their game. Freshman running back Terrell Newby showed he has what it takes and could be an exciting player for the next few years to come.

Aptly, it is Labor Day Weekend and no doubt the Huskers will be putting in the labor to learn from this opener as they get ready for Southern Miss next week.

Tunnel Vision

What to Expect from Wyoming

Returning quarterback Brett Smith has an accurate arm and an eye for reading the defense. He isn’t a prolific passer, but will probably throw about 20-25 times against the Huskers. The other threat on offense is a deep rotation among several capable running backs, led by D.J. May. Last season may have been a disappointing year for the Cowboys, but the offense never struggled.

On defense, the 2012 99th ranked defense needs a strong improvement to turnaround last season’s results. A dismal rush defense was made worse by the graduation of their top three tacklers. Add in a 121st ranked run defense, giving up 232 yards per game, and you are setting up a Husker rushing steamroller. The most experienced facet of the Cowboy defense is the secondary with four returning starters from a passing defense that was respectable.

Key Players for Wyoming

Brett Smith QB
Robert Herron WR
Tyler Strong OL
Eddie Yarbrough DT
Blair Burns CB
Chad Reese FS

I’d anticipate Nebraska’s gameplan to exploit the run early, opening up the passing game and get ahead early. Defensively, Wyoming’s passing game should be a good barometer of improvements to the secondary. I don’t expect the running-back-by-committee gain much traction against the Huskers line which should be a good confidence builder heading in to Southern Miss.