Young guys key comeback
Finding the open field, freshman Jamal Turner breaks up field during one of his three catches. Turner led the team with 63 receiving yards.
Story by Grant Muessel and photos by Crystal Zamora, News Net Nebraska
There’s a fine line between persevering through adversity and admitting it’s time for a change.
For Nebraska, it took two quarters, two freshmen and a school record to cross that line.
In a game no more than one possession apart for the first three quarters, it was Fresno State’s lack of respect for the Husker receiving corps that pushed freshman Jamal Turner over the line. With as many as nine players in the box against the Husker front, Turner said it was only a matter of time before the Bulldogs paid for it.
“We honestly did feel a little disrespected,” Turner said.
After falling behind 20-14 in the third quarter, Nebraska’s young receivers had had enough.
“We just had to keep our heads up,” Turner said. “We’ve always been confident, we just hadn’t been executing.”
Turner caught 43-yard bomb over busted coverage. And two plays later, sophomore Quincy Enunwa caught a 16-yard touchdown to give the Huskers a lead they never gave up.
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck said he was proud of how his young players stuck with the game plan despite the close game.
“Offensively, we never panicked,” Beck said. “We stayed the course. We had to be patient.”
Defense can’t get to Carr
The first half troubles were not limited to the offense. Defense and special teams struggled, according to defensive coordinator Carl Pelini. He said his young cornerbacks, Andrew Green and Ciante Evans, simply don’t have the snaps to be prepared for a game against a quarterback like Derek Carr.
“We knew (Carr) had a big arm,” Pelini said. “It’s not a matter of technique, it’s a matter of experience. We’ve just got to keep seasoning these guys.”
Evans, who was targeted by Fresno State several times in first half, finished the game with six tackles and a pass breakup.
The defensive line finished the game without a sack, which came as a surprise to Pelini after the Bulldogs gave up six to California in week one.
Pelini said without any sacks, he began to think about mixing in different players into the mix in search of pressure on Carr.
“It was a hard game to sub for,” Pelini said. “As a coach I have to get over the want to keep the (starters) in.”
“They did a good job of moving the pocket,” said defensive line coach John Papuchis. He said the few times Carr was vulnerable, the line failed to take advantage.
Special teams gives up touchdown
According to Papuchis, who doubles as special teams coordinator, the struggles reached beyond offense and defense.
“(Special teams) coverage was disappointing, and that’s got to get fixed,” Papuchis said after Nebraska allowed an average of nearly 25 yards on kick returns, and 22 yards on punt returns, including a 67-yard punt return touchdown.
Jared Crick struggles to get to the quarterback on a day when the Huskers didn’t record any sacks.