LINCOLN — Nebraska's inability to finish everything that it started Saturday put a bit of a damper on its 42-14 victory over Troy State.
The fourth-ranked Huskers squandered a handful of scoring opportunities, twice failing to score after moving inside the Trojans' 5-yard line. The lack of execution around the goal-line raised some concern among the Huskers, who face a showdown against Notre Dame in six days.
"I don't think there should be a team in the country that should stop us on the goal line, whether it's Troy State or Notre Dame," Nebraska tight end Tracey Wistrom said. "We have an effective enough offensive line that we should be able to take care of it no matter who we're playing."
The Huskers did score five times on offense, with I-back Dahrran Diedrick getting three of the touchdowns to highlight a 177-yard performance in his first start. Nebraska also got a touchdown from the defense, which held its second straight opponent to fewer than 200 yards.
Troy State, making its debut as a member of NCAA Division I-A, finished with 165 total yards, including a minus 25 yards rushing. The Huskers recorded eight sacks, had 15 tackles for losses and forced three turnovers to keep the 241st consecutive sellout crowd of 77,812 at Memorial Stadium entertained.
Nebraska limited Texas Christian University to 186 yards in its season-opening win. The two solid defensive efforts are nice, Nebraska Coach Frank Solich said, but they still don't give the Huskers a complete picture.
"We knew these first two games were going to be against teams that were relatively young and inexperienced from an offensive standpoint," Solich said. "We know that Notre Dame is going to give us a big, big test.
"I don't want to downplay what our defense has been able to accomplish because we have played well. But we know we still have a ways to go."
The same is true on offense, where the Huskers rolled up 457 total yards - 127 more than they produced against TCU. Nebraska had 330 yards rushing, while quarterback Eric Crouch completed 8 of 15 passes for 109 yards.
"There's some improvement there," Solich said when asked to compare Saturday's performance with what the Huskers did against TCU. "At times, we did not run the power game well, but then there were flashes of it out of different formations that enabled us to get some power running plays going in the second half.
"Not putting points on the board on the 5-yard line was disappointing."
The Huskers had scoring drives stopped at the Troy State 14, 5, 11, 1 and 3-yard lines.
"It's frustrating not to execute on the goal line," Crouch said. "That's something we'll have to do better against Notre Dame."
Troy State, dropping to 0 - 1, got its Kodak moment four minutes into the game the Demontray Carter scored on a 9-yard run to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead. They resisted the urge to stop the game and line up for a team picture in front of the scoreboard, but there was considerable celebration on the Troy State sideline after the score.
The touchdown was set up when Lee Walls recovered Nebraska punt returner Keyuo Craver's fumble at the Nebraska 29-yard line. Nutter's 20-yard pass to Hayward Skipper preceded Carter's scoring dash to the right of the Nebraska defense.
The Huskers responded with a 28 - point blitz that put Nebraska ahead by three touchdowns with 10:29 left in the second quarter. Diedrick carried eight times on an 11-play, 69-yard drive that ended with his 1-yard scoring run. Diedrick gained 52 yards on the drive, with 38 coming on the play that preceded his score with 6:45 left in the first period.
Crouch put the Huskers ahead with 4:05 left in the period with a 1-yard scoring run. Crouch had a 15-yard run to get the drive going, then hooked up with Wilson Thomas on a 36-yard pass play that put the ball on the Troy State 1-yard line.
The Huskers increased their lead to 21-7 on the second play of the second quarter when Lannie Hopkins sacked Nutter and forced a fumble that defensive tackle Jon Clanton snatched up at the 20-yard line. Clanton, NU's fastest defensive lineman, raced into the end zone for the touchdown with 14:47 left in the first half.
Diedrick got his second touchdown on an 11-yard run that ended Nebraska's next possession. The six-play, 57-yard drive featured a 22-yard pass from Crouch to Thomas and a 14-yard gain on a Crouch to Tracey Wistrom pass.
Troy State countered with an 88-yard drive that ended with Nutter's 31-yard pass to Skipper. Nutter also hooked up with LeBarron Black for a 23-yard gain, and Carter got the drive started with a 20-yard run.
Ahead 28-14, Nebraska squandered a pair of scoring opportunities late in the half. The Huskers drove from their 26 to the Troy State 14 before turning the ball over on downs. The Huskers got the ball back at the Troy State 7 when punter Jeremy Schatz dropped the center snap and was tackled by Hopkins.
Diedrick got 2 yards on first down, but the Trojans dropped Crouch for a 5-yard loss and sacked him for an 8-yard loss to leaving Nebraska facing fourth and goal at the Troy State 18. David Philyaw kept the Huskers from scoring when he blocked Josh Brown's 35-yard field goal attempt.
It was the Trojans who squandered the next scoring opportunity after Vernon Marable recovered Diedrick's fumble at the Nebraska 19-yard line on the first play of the second half. Nutter gave the ball right back to the Huskers as Mark Vedral came up with an interception at the Huskers' 4 - yard line.
Crouch short-circuited a potential scoring drive when he threw an interception at the Troy State 11-yard line. The Huskers came back on their next possession to hike the lead to 35-14, with Diedrick scoring on a 33-yard run through the heart of Troy State's defense.
Nebraska finished the scoring in the fourth quarter when Thunder Collins scored on a 7-yard run with 6:54 remaining.
|Yards per carry||-0.7||5.5|
Nebraska is 3-0 all-time against Troy State.
|Troy State||Sept. 1|
|Notre Dame||Sept. 8|
|Iowa State||Oct. 6|
|Texas Tech||Oct. 20|
|Kansas State||Nov. 10|
|Miami (FL)||Jan. 3|
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