Game Day: Nebraska vs. Southern Miss

Can't touch this

Even after a week of soul-searching, the Husker coaches are expressing steadfast confidence that the defense will take a big step forward. More than 90,000 fans at Memorial Stadium and a Big Ten Network audience await improvement against a Golden Eagles offense that scored 15 points in a loss to Texas State. With reporters swarming them this week, defensive coaches said they await it, too. They peered pragmatically — and, at times, confidently — at the road ahead after Nebraska gave up 602 yards and 35 first downs against Wyoming.

2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

Nebraska rush offense vs. Southern Miss rush defense

Nebraska put up a sound number last week, running for 375 yards (and 6.0 per carry). It also spread out 47 carries among I-backs Ameer Abdullah, Imani Cross and Terrell Newby, with fresh legs a chance to be a factor again. Southern Miss allowed Texas State a net 73 rushing yards last week, but this is a different kind of challenge for the Golden Eagles. Edge: NU

Nebraska pass offense vs. Southern Miss pass defense

Taylor Martinez takes another shot at USM after scorching the Golden Eagles for 354 yards and five touchdowns a year ago. The Huskers didn't get too fancy against Wyoming as Martinez went 17 of 22, and took few chances downfield. Martinez finished with 155 yards -- his only game lower last season was at Iowa in the cold -- but did connect on three TDs. Edge: NU

Southern Miss rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

The lost yardage from three sacks last week helped keep the Golden Eagles' rushing total to just 23 yards. If they can't get anything established running the ball -- or don't really try -- they could be throwing it 50-plus times again. That would make it easy on a Husker defense that got gouged at times by Wyoming, especially up the middle. Edge: NU

Southern Miss pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

The Golden Eagles go from one of the worst passing units in Conference USA to an intriguing attack with coach Todd Monken and QB Allan Bridgford. The Cal transfer passed for 377 yards last week, and receivers Tyre'oune Holmes and Rickey Bradley combined for 19 catches and 289 yards. Some pressure might be needed to keep them from playing catch. Edge: Southern Miss

Special teams

Other than a failed PAT, NU got off to a good start. Its kick coverage included four touchbacks and three returns to the 18, 22 and 17. Redshirt freshman punter Sam Foltz was sharp, and Kenny Bell put a little pizzazz in the kick-return game with 37- and 35-yarders. The Eagles have a pair of returners to watch in Jalen Richard and Emmanuel Johnson. Edge: NU

Intangibles

NU plays at home (the game was moved from Hattiesburg). UCLA is on deck, but the Huskers should be zoned in after last week's finish. USM is heading into its second game under Monken, the former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator. Some Eagles have been to Lincoln before, but that was a 49-20 wipeout last year. Edge: NU

Key matchup: NU defensive line vs. Southern Miss offensive line

A number of Nebraska defensive linemen, including Avery Moss (left) and Vincent Valentine (center), got either their first or most significant playing time as Huskers last week. The reviews were about as mixed as you might expect. Here's the difference Saturday night: Southern Miss likely isn't going to be able to generate the same kind of run game as Wyoming, and quarterback Allan Bridgford probably won't be as slippery as Brett Smith. So the job should be easier for that front four.

Our take

There was some hand-wringing after the close call last week, but we'll give NU a clean slate and see if it can put together a more complete effort. USM, which has lost 13 straight games, committed six turnovers last week, so it has more than its own issues. Gaining some momentum and positive vibes will be a must with UCLA coming next week.

Our prediction: Nebraska 46, Southern Mississippi 23

Live updates

 

Videos

Extras

BRT Podcast

Jon Nyatawa and Sam McKewon analyze the breakdowns in Nebraska’s season-opening win over Wyoming. Nothing seemed to go as planned for the Huskers Saturday. The two Husker beat writers examine what might have caused the close call, while pondering a few possible structural changes NU could make along the way. Click here »

Printable rosters

Looking for a handy reference guide that you can take to the game? Check out our two-page printable roster, sorted by jersey number and including height, weight, year in school, hometown and high school information. Click here »

On social media

Check out the Big Red Today page on Facebook to discuss the latest news with the top Husker fans, and follow us on Twitter to get instant updates and analysis whenever news breaks.

BRT app

iPhone and Android users, get your Husker updates on the go by downloading our free Big Red Today app from the App Store and the Google Play store. Omaha.com/BRTapp and Omaha.com/android

Big Red Today coverage

In 1968, two U.S. Olympians paid a price for nonviolent protest. Today, they're hailed as heroes

It’s been a long time since Tommie Smith and John Carlos protested at the 1968 Olympics, but American athletes, including three Husker football players, continue to use their sports to protest the injustices they perceive in society.

McKewon: John Parrella makes positive impression for Huskers on recruiting trail

The first conversation I had with Nebraska defensive line coach John Parrella came a few weeks before he was hired by the Huskers from Northern Michigan. At the end of the chat, I thought, “Recruiting won’t be an issue.” Parrella…

Nebraska cornerback Chris Jones has shutdown abilities, but knows he can’t lose focus

Chris Jones, at 6-foot and 185 pounds, is seeing quarterbacks avoid throwing in his direction as he anchors one side of the Husker secondary, adding even more confidence to his game after coming on strong to finish last season.

Chatelain: Former Husker Ameer Abdullah, 'stung' by backlash, says he would’ve kneeled too

Abdullah’s heart is heavy, but his mind is pretty clear: If he were still wearing a Husker uniform, he would’ve been right next to Rose-Ivey. “Most likely, yes, I would’ve kneeled,” Abdullah said.

Flashback Q&A: Former Husker defensive tackle Rich Glover

Rich Glover would have kept playing, and the former Nebraska defensive tackle thought he was better than some linemen the Philadelphia Eagles were going to keep before the 1975 season.

UNL student government votes to support Huskers' Rose-Ivey, teammates in their kneeling protest

There was little doubt about the support the three had from University of Nebraska-Lincoln student leaders who held their meeting at the East Campus Union, which Michael Rose-Ivey attended.

McKewon: Daub, Ricketts comments create another obstacle in Nebraska's uphill recruiting battle

Husker football recruiting has enough challenges. Location. The weather. A dimming star in terms of relevance. Now it's politicians who aren't doing the program any favors.

Husker notes: Tenopir ‘special guy’ to Cavanaugh; Big Ten honors Foltz, Sadler and more

Nebraska offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh spent time Wednesday reflecting on his relationship with Milt Tenopir, and how following Mike Riley from Oregon State to NU allowed it to happen.

Finally his turn, senior Corey Whitaker shines for Huskers

All that had happened in the previous five or six weeks — and really, over the last four-plus years — didn’t matter Saturday night as Corey Whitaker stood next to Nebraska offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh.

Chatelain: In final days, Husker family Milt Tenopir helped build was there to see him home

Milt Tenopir, who died Monday following a battle with leukemia, spent the last good days of his life surrounded by members of the Husker football family he helped build for decades.

Shatel: An old man and his line, plus friends for a lifetime

I’ll never forget the time Milt Tenopir introduced me to Frank Codr. Pleasantries were short. “NO MEDIA! GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!” This was in 1997, an electric fall in Nebraska. And Tenopir, the offensive line coach at Nebraska,…

Wideouts coach Keith Williams ‘ecstatic’ to be back on duty for Husker games

Alone in his office, Keith Williams watched Nebraska’s first three football games this season. The fourth game, played at Northwestern, Williams watched in the airport on an iPad. “The Big Ten (Network) stream,” Williams said.

New coach John Parrella may be in the background of D-line’s success, but his players are well-aware of what he brings

When assessing the play of Nebraska’s defensive front four, it’s important to look at the impact of the fifth person integrally involved. That would be defensive line coach John Parrella. He is in his first year at NU, but there…

Husker notes: Now starting, Carlos Davis is showing his maturity; NU linemen gear up for ‘big dudes’ and more

Chalk up another strong game for redshirt freshman defensive tackle Carlos Davis. Defensive coordinator Mark Banker said Davis is playing “much more responsible” in his three career starts.

Local veterans offer opinions on Husker players kneeling during national anthem

“If they don’t agree with the anthem and what it means, that’s their prerogative,” said Peter Jennings, 77, of Omaha, a Navy veteran. “But why do it at Memorial Stadium, on a Saturday afternoon?”

NU president says he defends Husker players' right to kneel during national anthem

NU Regent Hal Daub of Omaha said he was disappointed in the Husker players because he doesn’t believe a football game is the place to express political or social views. Expressing their views is fine, he said, but not when…

Ricketts will meet next week with Husker linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, who knelt during national anthem

Late Tuesday, Ricketts tweeted: "Thanks for reaching out. Direct message me your information, and we will get something set up right away!"

Recruiting: Huskers set to host Iowa commit; raiding LSU's class; recent Husker offers

All the latest Nebraska recruiting news and notes.

Pick Six Podcast: Northwestern recap, Nebraska's B1G revenge tour, Milt Tenopir's legacy, anthem kneeling, college hoops practice, weekly picks

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa tackle the hottest topics in sports, offering in-depth analysis of the latest headlines.

Big Ten notes: One month in, already injuries aplenty; Stat of the week and more

The injury bug is biting extra hard through the first month of play, sidelining numerous key contributors. Wisconsin starting inside linebacker Chris Orr blew out his knee on the first defensive snap of the first game. He is out for…

Husker linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey says he can’t stay silent, ignore issues of injustice

The red “N” on his T-shirt as prominent as his passion, senior Nebraska linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey on Monday explained for seven minutes — uninterrupted, and in prose that quoted the bible, Martin Luther King and James Baldwin — why he…

Barfknecht: Nebraska's Milt Tenopir loved his job, and his players would always put it on the line for him

Relentlessly positive. That’s how I will forever remember former Nebraska offensive line guru Milt Tenopir and his love for all things Husker football. Other than family, nothing meant more to him than to wear that big red N on his…

Longtime Nebraska offensive line coach Milt Tenopir, 76, made Husker 'Pipeline' go

Nebraska built its football dynasty with a rugged and relentless rushing attack, and Milt Tenopir helped construct the offensive lines that made it go. Tenopir died Monday at his Lincoln home, according to a close friend, after battling both acute…

Husker players explain decision to kneel at national anthem; Gov. Pete Ricketts calls protest 'disgraceful'

A national conversation on race and police violence started by an NFL quarterback last month continued Monday with three members of the Nebraska football team and a high-profile critic, Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Video: Michael Rose-Ivey says 'I cannot hide from responsibilities to be a voice' on issues

Nebraska linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey made an impassioned speech Monday regarding his decision to kneel during the national anthem before Saturday's game.

Video: Riley, Rose-Ivey, Armstrong speak during Husker press conference

Nebraska coach Mike Riley addressed the media Monday to recap the win over Northwestern and look ahead to the Illinois game.

Q&A: Husker junior wide receiver/punt returner De'Mornay Pierson-El

After playing in all 13 games as a freshman in 2014, junior wide receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El dealt with foot and knee injuries in 2015, limiting him to five games. He totaled eight touchdowns in his first 18 games at Nebraska,…

Husker notes: Tanner Farmer, Alonzo Moore look doubtful for Illinois game

It’s possible that Nebraska could be heading into the Illinois game without offensive guard Tanner Farmer and receiver Alonzo Moore, with head coach Mike Riley calling both doubtful on Monday.

Husker offense getting more long gainers, met Mike Riley’s goal in win over Northwestern

You take the offense however and wherever you can get it, but Nebraska coach Mike Riley never hesitates to say that he likes to see it come in healthy chunks from time to time. The Huskers did that Saturday night…

Shatel: There's room and respect for everyone in Huskers' melting pot

Seven Huskers. Two acts of passion. One planned: Three players kneeling in protest during the national anthem at Ryan Field at Northwestern. One unplanned: Four players helping the Wildcat band hold up a giant American flag so it wouldn’t touch…