Sunday, September 06, 2009

NU Re-View: Nebraska 49, Florida Atlantic 3

THE GOOD ...
- BALANCING ACT: After a creaky first quarter, Nebraska's offense found rhythm and balance. Nebraska ended the game with 259 yards passing and 231 yards rushing, and you could tell as the second half started the difficulty defenses had in handling Nebraska's attack. NU's first two scoring drives of the second half were almost effortless, and ended any threat of an FAU comeback.
- SCORING DEFENSE: Florida Atlantic moved the ball effectively between the 20's, but never really threatened to score on Nebraska. Even though FAU ended up with more time of possession than Nebraska (something that was NU's strong point last year and a sign that the 'Husker offense may be more explosive in 2009), the net result ended up with a comfortable win.
- RIBBON-TASTIC: The new ribbon boards really work well, offering in-game statistics, crowd chants, and hi-def Dorothy Lynch advertisements. As a stat geek, having more information available to me during the game just makes the experience even better.

THE BAD ...
- ABUNDANCE OF YELLOW: Nebraska had nine penalties for 86 yards, including a late hit penalty that kept FAU's only scoring drive alive and wiped out an interception. Again, it's the first game, so you expect a little bit of rustiness, but NU cannot afford to give away that much yardage to stronger opponents.
- THEY ALL ADD UP: Sure FAU didn't score from all the yardage they accumulated, but they still accumulated it. That's got to be an area of concern for Bo Pelini and the Blackshirts. If FAU had some more dangerous athletes on the field, there's no question that they could have cashed in with something on the scoreboard.
- SOMEONE HIT REFRESH! While having stats on the ribbon board is great, it's not so great when the stats aren't updated. Or even close to being updated. Throughout halftime, the ribbon board told the crowd that Zac Lee was 4-6 for 39 yards and a touchdown. That was great, if it was in the middle of the first quarter, when those numbers were accurate. Unfortunately, it was halftime, and Lee already had a 51-yard strike to Curenski Gilleylen. Come on, guys, you dropped about a bajillion dollars for the hi-def jumbo tee-vee machines, you should get the stats right on them.

... AND THE OLD, FAMILIAR FEELING.
This game was hauntingly familiar to Nebraska opening games of yore, when a minnow would come to town, NU would struggle a little early, then pull away late. As my brother commented, it was a little strange to be able to space out during the third quarter knowing the game was in hand. Now, we've seen false dawns before - remember, the dreaded 2007 campaign that got Bill Callahan fired began with a 52-10 thumping of Nevada. But at least for one night, it was fun to feel Memorial Stadium brimming with confidence and enthusiasm.

THE BIG PICTURE
The 'Huskers did about all you could ask of them in their opener. The new guys (particularly Zac Lee) looked a little sluggish to start out, but got their legs under them and ended up with a dominating win. What that means will really only be known after Nebraska's trip to Blacksburg in two weeks. But up to this point, year two of the Pelini regime is encouraging.

THE NEXT GAME
Nebraska's tour of the Sun Belt conference continues when the Arkansas State Red Wolves arrive in Lincoln next week. The good thing about their last game is that it was against FCS Mississippi Valley State. The bad news is that Arkansas State won 61-0. I don't care how bad the opponent is, 61 points is 61 points. ASU did most of their damage on the ground, the polar opposite of air-it-out FAU. Nebraska's vaunted front four and their rushing defense will get quite the test.
FEARLESS FORECAST: Pending release of the early line on the game

THE PHOTOS
http://picasaweb.google.com/patrickrunge/FloridaAtlanticNebraska#

GBR, baby.

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