With the Huskers 27-17 win over Rutgers today Mike Riley and the team earned themselves a few days worth of breathing room before heading off to face Illinois next Friday.
While they won, Coach Riley knows that the offense has to do more even as they are shorthanded thanks to a host of injuries this fall to several key players:
“You know there was a lot of new faces and some of them first time out there today. They made some plays and then what was great was when adversity snuck up on us again. The guys just kind of came back and stuck to it and won the game. That was pretty special. That part of it was outstanding”
The Huskers offense rested squarely on the shoulders of Devine Ozigbo and Mikale Wilbon today as Tanner Lee struggled again tossing a pick-6 interception in the third quarter and completing 50% of his passes.
Nebraska fans across the state would love to see the offense rely more on the rushing game but with a Big Ten West division that is stout against the run, the Huskers need the passing game to begin to improve.
“Well, I will tell you this, that would be nice, but we are going to have to throw for more yards,” Riley said when asked about continuing a three-man rushing rotation for future games.
Lee offered nothing but praise on the running backs after the game. Touting their toughness and the dominance of the offensive line as the reasons the offense was able to come away with the win.
“It’s huge and I think that’s the reason we won the game. We got behind our offensive line, they wanted to take over the game, and that’s exactly what they did. So that was huge for us.” Lee said.
While the running game was key today, the passing game left a lot to be desired. With the momentum hanging for both teams Nebraska started the second half with the ball and Tanner Lee handed Rutgers the ball on a 33-yard pick-6 interception.
“That was tough. I made a dumb play there, that’s for sure. I think the biggest thing was we got the ball back inside our own five and we went 17 plays and finished with a touchdown. That was the most important thing for us right there, we got it done. So that was good for us and our offense.” said Lee.
With Devine Ozigbo and Mikale Wilbon grinding out the clock for the offense the defense stepped up and delivered two key interceptions and allowed 58 yards in the second half to shut down the Scarlet Knights.
Bob Diaco’s defense has steadily improved each week and a big part of that has been the constant subbing of players to keep guys fresh. 17 different Huskers registered tackles on defense.
One of the days biggest contributors was Luke Gifford who posted 6 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and a late-game interception to shut down Rutgers.
“Then this week we gave up that drive to start the game. We were making sure it was the last drive that they were going to get. Then soon as we got that lead back this time, we pointed to last week and said, ‘That’s not happening. It’s not happening this week. We have to make a stop and once the offense gives us a lead, we were going to keep it’.” said Gifford.
The defense stood tall all game long after that first opening drive to give the offense a chance to control the rest of the game. Over the last 8 quarters of football, the Huskers defense has been a stalwart allowing only 2 touchdowns and a field goal to opposing teams.
Look for that trend to continue as the Huskers offense looks to continue to get back on track next Friday against Illinois at 7pm CST.
For video highlights of today’s game, tune into the Big Ten Network on Youtube
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/ 2 months ago
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