LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Nebraska scored three non-offensive touchdowns in the Huskers' season-opening win over South Alabama, 35-21. Eric Lee, Jr returned an interception for a touchdown, JD Spielman had a punt return TD and Alex Davis recovered a fumble in the end zone for the Big Red. The three key plays all came in the second half of a surprisingly close game. Nebraska held a 7-point lead at halftime and appeared to be pulling away in the third quarter. But a pair of USA touchdowns created some drama at Memorial Stadium.
Davis' touchdown came in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, which provided some breathing room for the Big Red. Davis was the beneficiary of a crunching hit by sophomore defensive back Cam Taylor, who blitzed from the secondary on a brilliant defensive play call.
Offensively, Dedrick Mills scored a pair of touchdowns for Nebraska, while Adrian Martinez passed for 178 yards in the win.
The Huskers had the advantage in most statistical categories, however South Alabama had more total yards.
MIlls, making his Husker debut, displayed his physical style in front of nearly 90,000 fans on a beautiful summer day in Lincoln. Mills finished with 44 rushing yards, including scoring both of Nebraska's touchdowns in the first half. Maurice Washington, who only played after halftime, rushed the ball six times.
Defensively, the Huskers allowed 314 yards and forced five turnovers. The Blackshirts blitzed often against the Jaguars. Sophomore Cam Taylor recorded his first career interception, which came as USA was on the verge of trimming Nebraska's lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Overall, the Huskers weren't as impressive as most fans expected. Nebraska committed eight penalties, while the offensive line frequently struggled to create interior running lanes. Additionally, several snaps were difficult for Adrian Martinez to handle.
With the win, Nebraska remains unbeaten in August (14-0 record). The Huskers will play against Colorado next Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
**'Twas good to get back inside Memorial Stadium. And for an August afternoon, the weather was perfect.
**Don't adjust your season predictions. That's one game. Small sample size. I saw an improved team, despite the game being closer than predicted.
**Two defensive touchdowns?!? Seems like black jerseys were an appropriate choice for Nebraska's alternate uniforms in 2019.
**Talk all you want about the up-and-coming talent on the roster. Nebraska's two biggest TDs were scored by seniors.
**Dedrick Mills is a bruiser. He said earlier this week he'd compare himself to Marshawn Lynch. Accurate.
**JD Spielman returning a punt for a touchdown. We've seen that before.
**Too many penalties. That has to change (obviously).
**Bad snaps were too frequent during fall camp for the Huskers. The trend continued during the season opener.
**Shoutout to freshman kicker Dylan Jorgensen. He filled in for Barret Pickering who was out with a leg injury. Jorgenson, a Lincoln Southwest graduate, took on a heavy workload and did a great job for a youngster who was kicking at Seacrest and Beechner Field last fall.
**Wan'Dale Robinson is fast. Game-changing speed. I'd like to see him get the ball more. He'll return a kickoff for a touchdown at some point this season.
**Not the best day for Adrian Martinez. He missed a few throws, made a few bad reads and South Alabama should've been intercepted twice (1 INT, 1 drop). But Martinez's leadership is unmatched. Remember, that's just the 12th game he's played in with the Huskers.
**Erik Chinander called a great game defensively. There were multiple corner blitzes, which frustrated USA. Chinander frequently brought pressure & showed a high level of trust in his players.
**Cam Jurgens started the game at center. Will Farniok finished the game at center. Not sure who will get the nod going into Week 2.
**Its a win. The Huskers are 1-0. College football is back.