Nebraska Cornhuskers: Looking Back at Game 1 of the 2011 Season

Mark BrunswigContributor ISeptember 4, 2011

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 3: Head Coach Bo Pelini leads his Nebraska Cornhuskers onto the field against the Chattanooga Mocs before their game at Memorial Stadium September 3, 2011 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska won 40-7. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

The Nebraska Cornhuskers took care of FCS foe Tennessee-Chattanooga with relative ease in front of sellout No. 312 in a row.  The Mocs had their moments but for the most part, Nebraska dominated the game.  The only score surrendered by the blackshirts* was a touchdown pass, on which the cornerback, Andrew Green, fell down.  Green will get his redemption later in the article. 

Fans had a good idea going in that the defense would do its job.  The blackshirts* looked fast, strong and game ready.  Only a few mental gaffes allowed Tenn.-Chatt. to put together a couple drives and some nice short runs and passes.

The defensive line looked sharp most of the time, mostly dominating after a slow start.  Jared Crick led the defensive line with five tackles including 1.5 for a loss.  Cameron Meredith, validating the praise from coaches entering his junior season, ended the game with only three tackles but two sacks and one interception off the edge.  Jason Ankarha was credited with Nebraska's third sac, with Meredith knocking the QB off balance, leaving a little clean up.  Jared Crick and gang in the middle did a solid job making plays and looked good taking up blockers for an athletic linebacker corps. 

Speaking of the LBs, Lavonte David did exactly what was expected.  David led all Nebraska defenders with nine total tackles from the will spot.  There were a few new names to the Big Red defense this year who had very good showings.  The first of those being reserve middle linebacker Trevor Roach.  The redshirt freshman walk-on was the second leading tackler for the blackshirts*, ending the game with seven total tackles, including three of those for a loss, and one quarterback hurry.  Roach showed plenty of athleticism, playing mostly at the strongside spot.  Starting strongside linebacker Sean Fisher played the middle spot for most the game as well as one of the nickle linebackers for the Cornhuskers.  Despite the expected first-game jitters and miffs, the linebackers looked game ready.

Junior college transfer Daimion Stafford, the second new name to the blackshirts* showing he can play, came to the Big Red known for being an athletic big hitter.  Stafford finished third on the team with six tackles, tied with Sean Fisher.  The junior saftey also forced a fumble on a big hit.  Stafford playing in a reserve roll looks to be all that was billed when he arrived in Lincoln. 

Andrew Green got the start at right cornerback for injured All-American Alfonzo Dennard.  Green is a  6'0", 190-pound sophomore from San Antonio Texas, and older brother of freshman running back Aaron Green.  True sophomore Ciante Evens started opposite of Green at left cornerback spot—both were making their first starts.  Evens showed his ability last season and played a good game.  Green was getting his first real action at his natural position after seeing limited action last season.  Ending the game with four tackles and a pass breakup, Green did all one could expect.  His only true noticeable mistake was getting his feet tangled up on the touchdown pass.  The future looks bright for Andrew Green, though. 

The Cornhuskers also had a new starter at the nickle and dime back positions.  Eric Haag and the ball-hawking Dejion Gomes are gone to the NFL.  Junior walk-on Justin Blatchford came to the Cornhuskers as a safety.  All could see it was his first start, showing he needs some work in the coverage area.  Senior Lance Thorell also saw action in the defensive backfield. 

Overall, the Big Red defense did all that was expected, all but shut the Mocs out.

Tim Beck's new offense was probably one the most anticipated aspects of the game Husker fans were wanting to see.  The first play, a two-yard run by the full back, was followed by a slew of options.  With a new system, a young line and a lesser opponent, I'm guessing Tim Beck probably didn't open up the playbook too wide. 

Nebraska was able to flex some muscle on a couple nice option plays in the first half, but consistency in the running game was lacking big time.  I know coach Osborne ran the option, but he usually throws in a few traps and power plays.  With a young line, one would think the best idea would be to get downhill more often.

That young line did a nice job in pass protection, though, giving quarterback Taylor Martinez time to show the ability to make a variety of throws from a floater down the middle to a strike on an out rout.  Martinez started out with some happy feet, pulling it down and running before making his progressions.  As the game went along, things settled down for the offense, and the cruise control was set by the middle of the third quarter. 

Taylor Martinez was the go-to guy for the Huskers, leading the team in rushing and passing.  There really wasn't anyone who stood out on offense, though.  Just a good game overall on a limited playbook, even though the new offense needs some work.  All the pieces are there and as the season goes, on the playbook will begin to open, showing some more big playmakers...we all hope, at least.

Player of the Game

Brett Maher: 4-for-4 on FGs, four punts averaging 52 yards per punt (two inside the 20) and seven kickoffs with three touchbacks.  This young man is a athlete, not just a kicker.

Stat of the Game

Three penalties for 33 yards.

Thanks for dropping by.