09.17.2010 / Defense shows improvements, but the Husker offense looked undisciplined. Blog posting by Mike Babcock, Huskers Illustrated Magazine.
It was Christmas in September for the Nebraska secondary. That is how sophomore safety P.J. Smith described the performance against Idaho, anyway.
"Offensively, we looked like an undisciplined football team and a careless football team. - Bo Pelini"
“It was really fun,” Smith said following the Huskers’ 38-17 victory, “a couple of us on the sideline saying, ‘He’s throwing presents to us. It’s gifts. We’ve just got to get it and go.’” And that’s what happened, beginning in the second quarter.
The “he” to whom Smith referred was Idaho senior quarterback Nathan Enderle, a North Platte native ranked among the top NFL prospects in the country. And the “gifts” were pass interceptions, though they were more accurately thefts not gifts because they weren’t freely given.
Smith made the first interception of Enderle early in the second quarter, and I-back Roy Helu, Jr. followed with a 58-yard touchdown run. Safety DeJon Gomes intercepted an Enderle pass on Idaho’s next possession and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. Safety Rickey Thenarse intercepted yet another Enderle pass on Idaho’s next possession and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown.
In the span of 4 1/2 minutes, fueled by the interceptions, the lead increased from 10-0 to 31-0. For good measure, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and safety Anthony West intercepted Enderle passes in the second half. “They challenged every route, and that’s the kind of football that we expect from those guys,” Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said of the defensive backs.
“That was our message to them last night: ‘Come on, let it loose, play to your ability and challenge everything.’ That’s what they did. In our first game, I felt we had to lay back and just get our feet under us. You didn’t see that today. We were attacking in the secondary.’” The Huskers were also applying pressure up-front. They sacked Enderle and his back-up seven times. The week before, against Western Kentucky, they had only one sack.
“I heard all week about one sack last week,” said Pelini. “But when teams are throwing with their big personnel and max protecting, you’re not going to get a lot of sacks.” Idaho didn’t change its offense. The Vandals “ran their spread, and I knew going in that we were going to have an opportunity to get pressure,” Pelini said. “And our guys responded.”
After the Western Kentucky game, coach Bo Pelini said he was “embarrassed” by the defensive effort. After the Idaho game, he was upset by the offense, which fumbled eight times, losing three; threw an interception and was penalized six times for 70 yards.
"Offensively, we looked like an undisciplined football team and a careless football team. However, I told the defense they played their tails off." Bo Pelini said.
Players in the secondary certainly did with the interceptions. From their point of view, it was better to receive than to give. “We should’ve had a couple of more,” said Smith. “But we got five, so that’s good enough.” No need for greed.
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